Disclaimers: All the standards…

Not mine.

Not making any money.

I just want to play with them for a while.

Once upon a time…

…A handsome young man named John had a chance encounter with a ravishing young woman named Mary. Her car had broken down as she was driving back to Lawrence after visiting her parents for the weekend. She had pulled the car over to the side of the highway and locked her doors. Although she tried several times, the car just wouldn't start again. So she sat in the car and watched the traffic go by, hoping that a police car would soon drive by and see her stranded there. But, as luck would have it, there were no police out on the highway that day. So, the pretty, young woman sat there wondering what she was going to. It was too far to walk into Lawrence and, besides, it just wasn't safe for a young woman to walk down a long, lonely stretch of highway all alone.

She stayed in the car and began to shiver slightly from the cold, when a black older-model car drove past and she saw the brake lights came on. The car stopped and moved over to the shoulder. She watched as the car backed up until it was only a few feet from the front of her car. A tall, dark, rather handsome, young man emerged from the car and approached her car. The young woman grew frightened for she was all alone and had never seen this man before. She checked all the doors to make sure they were locked and she glanced nervously up and down the highway.

The man came up to the driver's window and knocked gently on the window but the woman didn't acknowledge him. So he knocked again and asked her if she needed help.

"No thank you," she replied. "My boyfriend has gone for help and should be back soon."

But the man wouldn't be deterred and asked her to let him look under the hood.

"I'll be fine," she stated, not at all convincingly. "Please just go."

"I'm not going to leave you all alone on the side of the highway," answered the man, his voice full of concern. "Will you at least try to start the car for me?"

So the pretty young maiden reluctantly tried to start the car once again, but aside from spinning the engine a little bit, nothing happened.

"Just let me take a look under the hood," pleaded the concerned young man. And, sensing her fear of him, he added, "I can't get into the car from under the hood."

So the young woman begrudgingly popped the hood and she watched as the young man rummaged around for a few minutes. Then he poked his head around the side and told her to try to start the car again. When her efforts didn't even produce a minuscule amount of sputtering from the broken-down engine, the young man closed the hood and walked back to the window.

"Your timing belt's broken," he said. "You're going to need a tow truck."

"That's what my boyfriend said," replied the young woman, hoping to convince the stranger that she had known this all along. "He should be back soon with the tow truck."

The handsome young man nodded and looked up and down the highway. But he didn't see anyone coming back so he turned back to the young woman and stated, "Then I'll just wait here until he gets back"

The man went back to his car and the young woman watched him as he proceeded to lean against it, waiting for the non-existent boyfriend to return. As the young lady watched him, she pondered his motives. Perhaps, under different circumstances, she wouldn't be so scared of him. He was tall and very good-looking. He had warm brown eyes and a smooth comforting voice. If they had met somewhere else she probably wouldn't have any trouble engaging him in a conversation. But out here, in the middle of nowhere, with no one else around, he just scared her.

About ten minutes later the young man walked back to her car and told her that he was going to drive into Lawrence himself and come back with a tow truck. He didn't wait for an answer before he got back into his car and drove away. Although she was relieved to see him go, she was once again all alone on the side of the road and she realized that she had actually taken comfort in his presence. But now he was gone.

So she sat in her car and wondered what she was going to do. She had refused the only offer of help that had come by. And there didn't seem to be too many Good Samaritans out on the roads that day. Even the police didn't seem to be too concerned about this highway. She chastised herself for not asking him to call the police for her and she wondered what had happened to her brain that she hadn't thought of that before. But now he was long gone and she was still stranded on the side of the road.

Then she observed what looked like a tow truck coming down the road from the direction of Lawrence. She debated getting out of the car to flag it down but noticed that it seemed to be slowing down as it neared her location. Suddenly the rooftop lights flashed on and the tow truck pulled over. She watched as the driver completed a three-point turn and backed up to her car. The driver jumped out and she was surprised to discover that it was the same handsome young man who had stopped to help her earlier. Without a word, he attached her car to the tow truck but refrained from lifting it off its wheels before he came over to her window.

"You'll have to get out of the car now," he told her. "It's illegal to tow a vehicle with someone inside. You're going to have to sit in the cab of the truck."

And that's how the beautiful damsel in distress from Lawrence, Kansas met her knight in shining armor...

So the pretty young maiden named Mary got out of her car and hesitantly got into the cab of the tow truck. And, although she knew she didn't have any other options, she still wasn't sure she should trust this man. As they headed back into Lawrence, she sat as close to the door as she could, keeping her hand clenched tightly around the handle. If he made any moves that frightened her, she was ready to bolt from the truck and take her chances on the highway.

But he noticed how nervous she was and he tried to calm her nerves by telling her about himself. His name was John and the tow truck actually belonged to his father. He had just come back from an overseas stint with the Marines. He had his mechanics license and was currently working at his father's garage. He asked her if there was any garage in particular where she would like her car towed. She reluctantly told him that she really didn't know much about cars and didn't know any good garages either. So John offered to take the car to his father's garage. He probably had the parts he needed to fix the car at the garage and he could repair it right away.

But the pretty young woman was still leery of this seemingly kind young man named John and she was still afraid to wait alone with him at the garage while he fixed her car. So she hesitantly told him that she didn't have enough money to pay him for everything he had done for her already. Maybe it would be best if he just towed the car to her apartment building and she'd worry about having it fixed at a later date when she had some money.

But the handsome young man named John simply smiled at her. If she would just agree to let him buy her a cup of coffee and try not be too afraid to sit with him and drink it, that would be all the payment he would require.

And that's how the courtship between the beautiful young damsel and the dashing young man began…

For a while they dated sparingly; Mary was unsure whether she really wanted to commit to a relationship at this time in her life. She was in her final year of nursing at the university in Lawrence and wanted to concentrate on her schooling. So John backed off and tried to give her the space she needed. But it was obvious to everyone who knew them that he was happiest whenever he was with her. Her smile lit up a room and her eyes sparkled like diamonds whenever she laughed. He loved to watch her long blond hair blowing freely in the wind and he cherished every moment they were together.

For her part, Mary felt safe and secure with John. He was caring and thoughtful and he told her he loved her every day. He was constantly buying her flowers and little tokens of his affection and he said he loved children and wanted to be a father. But the thing she liked most about him was that he didn't pressure her into a relationship; he was just happy to spend any time at all with her. And she certainly couldn't deny that he made her feel special.

Mary graduated from university the following spring and got a job working in the maternity ward at the Lawrence Memorial Hospital. John continued to work in his father's garage, too wrapped up in his devotion to Mary to even think about re-joining the Marines. And when his father died of cancer later that year, John inherited the garage. Eighteen months after they first met, John finally worked up the courage to ask Mary to marry him.

They were married on Saturday September 24, 1977 in St. John Evangelist Church in Lawrence, Kansas. Mary looked radiant and elegant in her white pinafore-style dress with a scooped neckline and bishop sleeves. John wore a three-piece black suit and swore he had never been happier than on the day Mary agreed to marry him. They chose the soft-rock ballad "Just the Way You Are" by Billy Joel as their wedding song and they honeymooned in Jamaica for a week before they returned home.

And so began their happily ever after…

John and Mary bought a big, old house in the middle of Lawrence shortly after they married. It was run-down and in drastic need of repairs, but it was theirs. It was in a good section of town and was big enough to raise a family. They put all their spare time and money into renovating the house and in no time at all they soon it restored to at least some of its former glamour.

On January 24, 1979 Mary and John Winchester became parents to a beautiful little boy they named Dean. He had dirty blond hair and hazel eyes and everyone who met him for the first time fell instantly in love with him. He was precocious and outgoing and he kept his parents busy with all of his childhood antics. As he grew older, he loved to play with his father or go for rides in their 1967 Chevy Impala. John could tell that his son was fascinated by that car and he often dreamed of the day that he would pass it down to him.

But as much as Dean loved to spend time with his father, he cherished his mother above all else. All of their friends and relatives told them that he got that from his father because John had never wavered in his affection for Mary. And Dean seemed to be devoted to her in the same way. He loved to follow her around the house and he seemed to constantly crave her attention. All of Mary's friends told her she was so lucky to have two such devoted men in her live. And Mary did feel lucky - and loved. She felt that her life was almost perfect.

Mary, John and Dean did everything together as a family. They went on picnics, to parks and playgrounds and visited every museum they could find. Mary read to her son every night before he went to bed and John taught him to play baseball, football and soccer. He built him a huge play structure in the backyard. It had a swing and two slides along with monkey bars, a rope ladder and a fireman's pole. It was every little boy's dream come true and, if Dean wasn't tagging along somewhere with his parents, he could always be found playing in the backyard.

They were only missing one thing.

Another child.

When Mary gave birth to their second son on May 2nd, 1983, John was beside himself with joy. He and Dean ran out and bought the biggest, softest teddy bear they could find and took it with them when they visited Mary and the new baby in the hospital. It was so big that they had to sit it on the floor beside the basinet. They named the newest addition to the Winchester family Samuel after Mary's father but from the moment he was born they all called him Sammy.

Dean had been fascinated with his baby brother from the first time he saw him. He stared at him with wide wondering eyes. As he reached out to touch him, the baby grabbed his finger and squeezed it tightly.

Dean looked at his mother and declared, "He likes me for a big brother."

"I bet he does, Sweetheart," replied his mother and she smiled and asked him, "And what do you think of little Sammy?"

"I think he's the bestest little brother I could have. Thanks for giving him to me."

And they lived happily for the next six months…

Until the night that their lives changed forever. It had started out as just another ordinary day. John had gone to work at the garage. Mary had quit her job at the hospital before Sammy was born and now worked part-time at their pediatrician's office. She had been at work that day and had dropped the boys off at their sitter's house just down the street. She had picked them up just after 5:00 p.m. and had gone home to make supper and spend the evening with her family.

After dinner the four of them had gone for a walk to the park. Dean had found a friend to play with and Sammy had sat happily on his mother's lap watching the older children play. When they returned home, Mary gave Sammy a bath while Dean watched TV with his father. Mary joined them to give Sammy his bottle before she put him to bed. As she settled him into his crib for the night, Dean rushed in to say goodnight to his baby brother. John followed his son into the baby's room and jokingly asked Dean if he thought Sammy was ready to play ball with them.

Dean responded, "No, Daddy" with a little chuckle before Mary turned to John and asked him to put Dean to bed. John acknowledged her request and whispered goodnight to his youngest son before he took Dean to his bedroom.

Mary had been exhausted and had gone to bed early. John didn't want to disturb her so he stayed downstairs to watch television. He fell asleep watching the news and was rudely awakened by the sound of Mary screaming their youngest son's name. He dashed upstairs and into the baby's room but didn't see Mary anywhere. He walked over to his infant son's crib in time to witness a couple of blood droplets fall onto the mattress beside the baby's head.

John looked up and was shocked by the sight of his wife pinned to the ceiling. As he tried to make some sense out of the scene, flames suddenly burst out all around Mary's body. The fire seemed to leap out at him and he was afraid it was going to engulf both him and Sammy along with his beloved wife. Realizing he had to get Sammy out of the room, John snatched him out of the crib and ran into the hall where he met Dean, who had come out of his room wondering what was happening. John quickly handed the baby to Dean and told him to run outside as fast as he could. As Dean raced down the stairs, John tried to return to the baby's nursery to rescue his wife.

But her knight in shining armor couldn't save her this time and John watched helplessly as his happily-ever-after incinerated before his eyes...