Thursday, November 23, 2017
Parenting & Relationships

From This Day: Alexander MacKinnon and Sandra Cross

RECOMMENDED READING


TAMPA — As the owner of five construction equipment dealerships, Alexander "Sandy" MacKinnon set specific goals to attain success in business, a practice he carried over in times of bereavement.

He suggested Sandra "Sandy" Cross do the same to help cope with her own loss.

Before long, the two "Sandys" realized they shared more than a name; they shared a vision of a future together.

Their connection goes back some 20 years, as Brandon neighbors active in Rotary Club, the chamber of commerce, church and school. They were part of a civic-minded group of young couples who celebrated together in good times and supported each other during family crises.

In 1998, MacKinnon lost his wife of 32 years, his high school sweetheart Ardie, to cancer. "It was a time of re-evaluation," he said, "to get a grasp on my life. If you just get in the car and drive, you're going to end up at the wrong destination."

The transportation analogy is apt, since it was working on Hillsborough County traffic issues that drew MacKinnon to Commissioner Dottie Berger, whom he married in 2001.

Their friends Sandra and Glen Cross supported Dottie's election and her advocacy work for abused and neglected children. As president of Shimberg Cross Co., Glen developed thousands of homes in the communities of Temple Terrace, Town 'N Country, Carrollwood and Fishhawk. Sandra handled sales and marketing for many of the properties.

The friends rallied to her when Glen lost his life in a tragic accident in Banner Elk, N.C., in July 2012. A truck hauling two cars down Beech Mountain lost its brakes. One of the vehicles disengaged, hurtling into Glen's Jeep.

Then, 15 months later, those friends were among many at MacKinnon's side again, when Dottie succumbed to cancer.

Sandra had returned from a wedding in France in time to visit Dottie, her longtime friend, once more. MacKinnon gave her an envelope full of inspirational quotes and some questions he encouraged her to think about.

He texted Sandra weeks later, asking her to lunch, asking if his notes had been helpful.

"I shared some of my difficulties," Sandra said, "and he mainly just listened. Eventually he opened up … Having known and loved each others' spouses, it was a great comfort for both of us."

Late one afternoon, cruising on MacKinnon's boat behind his Davis Islands home, the couple eyed the fleeting sunset and dared to contemplate the future.

"When you're older and you've lost and you find love again, there is such a deep appreciation for every day," Sandra said. "It's unmeasurable."

MacKinnon counted his blessings. "She's pretty and vivacious," he said. "We'd always liked each other, and I wasn't going to spend the rest of my life single.

"Dottie knew that. She gave me a hall pass, if you will. She said, 'You shouldn't be alone, you're not that kind of person.' "

MacKinnon's surprise Christmas Eve proposal on the beach in St. Augustine made the holiday even more joyous. Sandra sparkled like the diamond ring he had designed for her.

"We are both indeed very fortunate," said MacKinnon, reciting one of the sayings he carries around on 3-by-5 cards: "Someone to love again, something to look forward to and someone to share it with.

"We are both sure that Glen and Dottie would bless our marriage and wish us the best."

They chose Jan. 30 to marry at St. John's Episcopal Church in South Tampa for a convenient reason. "We were already booked on a business trip to Puerto Rico the next day," said Sandra, "an instant honeymoon."

Sandra's daughter was her maid of honor; MacKinnon's youngest brother served as best man. His three adult children gave readings; stepdaughter Shannon, Dottie's daughter, was there, as were all but four of their combined 20 grandchildren.

A steel drummer and a magician entertained at the reception at their home. Friends sent a coconut wedding cake from the Peninsula Grill in Charleston, S.C. The newlyweds found beds for 15 house guests staying for the night.

On her wedding day, Sandra awoke at 4 a.m. filled with thoughts of the events of the past few years.

"Tears came and my heart raced as I remembered the tragedies and loss of our loved ones. Suddenly, seemingly from across the room, a sense of calm and peace rushed over and through me.

"I felt it reaffirmed what we already knew, that all is well."

Contact Amy Scherzer at ascherzer@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3332.

Comments
5 things to do under $5 Nov. 23-30: Craft festival, License-Free Saltwater Fishing Day, Snow Bash

5 things to do under $5 Nov. 23-30: Craft festival, License-Free Saltwater Fishing Day, Snow Bash

1. Gem, Jewelry and Bead Show and Sale: Check out these rocks when more than 50 dealers from around the United States sell crystals, minerals, beads, gems and jewelry. $5. Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through ...
Published: 11/22/17
Updated: 11/23/17
Top things to do this weekend: Lindsey Stirling, Faizon Love, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live

Top things to do this weekend: Lindsey Stirling, Faizon Love, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live

PULLING STRINGS: Lindsey StirlingDubstep violist Lindsey Stirling shot to fame as a quarter-finalist on America’s Got Talent in 2010 and she has been rocking the spangles on Dancing With the Stars this season as the last woman left . But on Friday yo...
Published: 11/22/17

Tell Me About It: Frequently-visiting sister needs to pitch in

Frequently visiting sister needs to pitch inQ: I live overseas with my husband and two boys. My sister visits often due to work travel and generous vacation benefits. Sounds great — especially as I have no other family member who can visit as often, ...
Published: 11/22/17
Black Friday deals at Legoland, SeaWorld, Disney and more

Black Friday deals at Legoland, SeaWorld, Disney and more

Black Friday isn’t just for stores. Many theme parks and attractions in Florida are also offering up deals that could make a nice gift or family splurge. The smaller the park, the bigger the deal, so Legoland, Gatorland and SeaWorld are toutin...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/23/17
Plan your weekend: Indie shopping, Lindsey Stirling, ice skating, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith

Plan your weekend: Indie shopping, Lindsey Stirling, ice skating, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith

Shopping Black Friday: Avoid the madness of the malls at a variety of indie shopping experiences this weekend. Skatepark of Tampa has one of the best sneaker selections in Tampa Bay and free skating all day Friday to celebrate. They’ll open at...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/22/17
Mark your calendars: Here are the top holiday concerts, ‘Nutcracker’ shows and parades

Mark your calendars: Here are the top holiday concerts, ‘Nutcracker’ shows and parades

Get out your calendar, set aside the time and get tickets to see the top holiday shows and parties coming this season. Here are our editor’s picks for the holidays:CONCERTS98 Degrees The turn-of-the-millennium boy band brings their new holiday tour p...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/22/17
Here's where to see Christmas lights in Tampa Bay

Here's where to see Christmas lights in Tampa Bay

Once the Thanksgiving leftovers are put away, you can stop grumbling about it being too early for Christmas lights and decorations. Let the grand illuminations begin! Despite our tropical climate, or maybe because of it, Tampa Bay goes all out when ...
Published: 11/21/17

Tell Me About It: Sister’s partner is a textbook abuser

Sister’s partner is a textbook abuserQ: My sister stays home with her two small children (2 and 1) while her partner works. Recently, during a fight, he took all of their money and left. He has since returned and they have patched things up for now. ...
Published: 11/21/17
Disney-Pixar’s ‘Coco’ has a Dia de los Muertos theme and is, well, lifeless

Disney-Pixar’s ‘Coco’ has a Dia de los Muertos theme and is, well, lifeless

Disney-Pixar’s Coco was more enjoyable three years ago when it was titled The Book of Life and came from Twentieth Century Fox.Both animated features spring from Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos celebration, the annual "day of the dead" when departed rela...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Tell Me About It: Couple considers living on one income

Couple considers living on one incomeQ: My husband and I, both unhappy in our jobs, have determined that with some strategic penny-pinching, we can live on one salary for a while. The question now is, whose salary?The argument for my husband quitting...
Published: 11/20/17