Love came unexpectedly


Tunisha Wallace And Brian Temple

September 02, 2001|By Joanne E. Morvay | By Joanne E. Morvay,Special to the Sun

Love found Tunisha Wallace and Brian Temple when they least expected it. It was the weekend after Valentine's Day 2000. Tunisha, 24, had recently moved back to Catonsville, her childhood home, after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Brian, 36, was a widower also living in Catonsville. Brian's first wife died of sickle cell anemia in 1999. With help from his father, grandmother and aunt, Brian was raising his 4-year-old daughter, Briahna.

That Saturday night in February, Tunisha and Brian went out with friends and ended up at the same party. They noticed each other immediately.

Tunisha remembers how handsome Brian looked in his brown leather jacket. Brian was drawn by Tunisha's vivacious personality, which was even more striking, Brian says, because he hadn't thought much about women and dating since his wife died.

"I looked at Tunisha and I just kept staring," he says.

Naturally friendly, Tunisha approached Brian and started a conversation. At various points, they were drawn away by other guests. But before the evening was over, the two danced together, and as the party wound down, Brian gave her his phone number.

"I could not wait to call," says Tunisha, explaining that she telephoned twice the next afternoon only to find that Brian wasn't home.

Surprised and happy to learn that Tunisha had gotten in touch so quickly, Brian asked her out for the next weekend. They went to the movies, had a great time, and began dating.

Uppermost in their minds from the beginning, they say, was Briahna.

"I didn't want to come on too strong because of Brian's daughter," Tunisha says. "I didn't want to bring myself into his life and her life ... not knowing where things were going to go."

Brian says he worried that the possibility of being "an instant mother" might prove daunting for Tunisha -- as well as heartbreaking for Briahna if things didn't work out.

After about a month, Brian decided to have Tunisha over for dinner. He cooked, and Tunisha and Briahna became friends almost as quickly as Tunisha and Brian had.

"I knew then that this was it," Tunisha says. "I wasn't going anywhere."

Brian's feelings were just as strong. Four months later -- with Briahna's blessing -- Brian asked Tunisha to move in with them. Careful to still give Tunisha a way out if she changed her mind about their relationship, Brian says he was a little slower to propose marriage.

"I wanted to marry Tunisha," he says. "But I wanted to give things some more time to be sure she knew what it was she was undertaking."

On New Year's Eve, Brian proposed, dropping to one knee in the parking lot as he, Tunisha and Briahna were about to enter church for an evening service.

Tunisha and Brian wed Aug. 18 at Morning Star Baptist Church in Catonsville. Briahna was the flower girl. Brian's father, Henry Temple, was best man. The 200 guests included Tunisha's parents, Fred Wallace and Roxanne Webb-Scott, her grandmother, Peggy Carroll, and her great-grandmother, Eleanor Randall, as well as Brian's grandmother, Delois Temple, and his aunt, Barbara Temple.

The couple scheduled the wedding the weekend after a family reunion on Tunisha's side, so some of her father's relatives could be there.

After they said their vows, Tunisha and Brian presented each other with a single red rose -- their first gift to each other as husband and wife.

After a honeymoon trip to Cancun, Mexico, Tunisha and Brian are back home in the Pikesville apartment they share with Briahna. Tunisha is starting classes in the Negotiation and Conflict Management program at the University of Baltimore, working toward her master's degree. Brian is sales manager for Electrolux Vacuum Cleaners in Glen Burnie.

Every night as Tunisha and Brian tuck Briahna, who just turned 7, into bed, the couple helps her recite her prayers. Often, Brian is reminded of the nights before Tunisha came into their lives, when Briahna would ask her father when she might have a mother again.

At the time, he says, "I told her I couldn't really give her an answer."

Fortunately, he says, God answered Briahna's prayers -- and his own.

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