It all began Jan. 11, 2009, while reading an article in The Columbian. At age 60, my life was decimated by the death of my wife of more than 39 years. I’d been alone for months. I was lonely, despondent and knew I could not live alone, but I didn’t know where to start looking for a partner.
An article in The Columbian talked about how people were using free online dating services to find mates, rather than pay high monthly fees. I became curious and logged onto one of the sites mentioned in the article. Most of the listings were posted by younger women and had titles that were rather scary. I looked at two but only one caught my interest. It was titled “Super sweet loving Vegetarian Cat Lover – 51 (Gresham).” The ad talked about being a good mom and not liking the dating scene. It also talked about supporting a partner and being affectionate in public. I logged off the site and went back to reading the newspaper.
As I read the paper, it was as if I was being called back to the listing. I found the ad — with difficulty since so many new ads had been posted — and read it over and over. I decided I had nothing to lose, so I wrote out a list of who I am and what I wanted out of life. I replied but my email system rejected the reply. I cut and pasted the address into another email system and started the reply by saying, “I had tried to respond to the ad online but it failed and if you don’t get this email — it wasn’t meant to be.”
About 90 minutes later I received a reply from Susan! She wanted to email each other for a while before meeting. For three weeks, we shared our lives behind the safety of the computer. About 120 messages, many several pages long, were sent back and forth. We became friends — even without meeting. The third week we began calling. The first call was one hour and 50 minutes. We decided a first date would be appropriate.
Susan suggested we meet at 4 p.m. at a coffee shop near her home. As I drove past the coffee shop, I saw her parking her car. I recognized her from a photo she sent. I thought to myself, I know her. I haven’t met her, but I know her. We talked for two hours until the coffee shop closed. I asked if she wanted to go to Edgefield. She followed me there and we talked and talked. We had great chemistry. Not wanting the date to end, I asked her if she would like to eat dinner there. She said yes. Still not wanting to end the date, I asked her if she wanted to watch a movie there. She said yes!
We watched the movie and I gently touched her arm, and there was something very special about that touch. I fell totally in love with her at that point. We held hands during the movie and later walked slowly to the car. All I could say to her was, “I want to see you again.” We drove off to our homes, but I knew my life would never be the same.
The next day, I asked Susan if she wanted to meet me after work for dinner. She said yes. I was so excited about meeting her I invited my kids to join us on our second date. (I forgot to mention this to Susan and she was less than thrilled but said it was OK. None of my kids showed up, anyway.) We talked until a point when we just stared at each other. We call this “the look.” Something magical was happening. After dinner, I drove her around and showed her where my kids lived, where I lived and where I went to church. We talked and talked, and finally it was time to say good night. I dropped her at her car and looked down into her beautiful face and kissed her for the first time.
Susan and I saw each other nearly every day, and I knew I had found my life partner. She told me that before I could ask her any question I had to meet her kids. We drove to San Diego to meet two of her sons and also her best friends. I passed the test! On the way back from San Diego, she said it would be OK to ask her any question. I bought an engagement ring.
On April 30, Susan and I had lunch and took a ride to Fort Vancouver. It was a beautiful day. I asked if she wanted to go for a walk and she agreed. The grass was covered in small flowers, and the cherry trees were blooming. We stopped at the Fort Vancouver gazebo and I looked down into her eyes and said “Susan, will you marry me?”
She said yes! I didn’t have the ring with me because I’d been planning to ask her later. We drove to my house to get it.
We reserved the bandstand for Aug. 22 for our marriage ceremony. Later we called this plan A. Eventually we changed our minds and implemented Plan B. We were married on June 16, 2009, in Reno, Nev.
It has been two years since I asked Susan to marry me, and we have a wonderful life together. Susan had only just posted her ad, at the prompting of a co-worker, moments before I found it. We consider our meeting a gift from God since Susan had only recently moved here from San Diego.
To celebrate our first wedding anniversary, we each had two hearts tattooed on our arms. Later we added the words “SUJO,” for Susan and John, and “The Gift” to the tattoo. Recently we added many more elements to this tattoo: Delirium (the name of the café we had our first date), gazebo (where I proposed to her) and cherry blossoms since the cherry trees were blooming at Fort Vancouver.
It isn’t often you make a friend that you can share anything with and it is even more rare to marry this person. I married my best friend.