I need to preface this story with some background, so here goes:
Okay, so I took this class at University that was held for one weekend in January (Friday through Sunday) and one weekend in February. During the first weekend, I went to lunch with a girl that I had only met that day. I offered to drive because I was parked closer to the building. She was a very nice girl, and I enjoyed her company. That was it. Class ended on Sunday and we went our own ways...no exchange of e-mails or numbers. So, a month later our second weekend of classes rolled around. She arrived late and did not get a seat near me. Class went on for about 3 hours before we had a break. On the break, I was checking my cell phone for messages when she approached me. She proceeded to tell me that we had a friend in common named Gary. It took a few seconds to register who he was, but I quickly had an "ah-ha" moment and came to reality. Turns out he was an old boyfriend of my sisters. She proceeded to explain to me how he figured out who I was:
When she came home on Sunday after class, he had asked her how her weekend was. She said good. He then asked her what she did for lunch and who she ate with (since she knew no one). She told him that she met a girl named Denine and had lunch with her. Upon hearing my name, he immediately became curious. After all, it is not a common name (at least not around here.) She was not sure what my last name was, but remembers seeing "DENINE Z" on the license plate of my truck. That was it. It would be unusual for her to meet a Denine in such a small area, but to meet a Denine with a last name that begins with the letter "Z" that was NOT me would be too weird. He asked her if my last name was Zielinski by any chance, and that rang a bell. She knew it was me that he was talking about.
Okay, so that is really not the cool part of the story. We know, now, that it is a small world, but here is the part that I love:
Gary is a 43 year old guy who my sister dated in 1992. That was about 16 years ago. Not to give my age, let's just say that I was 16 years younger then than I am now. Anyway, Gary and my sister dated for some time, but then broke up when he found another girl (Mary). It's all good. They eventually became friends and everyone got over it. Gary ended up marrying Mary shortly after. They both worked in the medical profession, and I would consider them to be pretty well off. They had 4 children over the 13 years that they were married...three girls and a boy. Mary had some medical issues here and there. Nothing that one would consider life-threatening or unmanageable. She saw doctors for her health and was doing well. I don't exactly know her issues. One night, Mary had stomach pains and went to the ER to be checked. The doctor there had her admitted for testing. That evening, as she tried to get out her hospital bed, she collapsed and died on the hospital room floor. She died at 35 years of age and left Gary behind to raise 4 young children by himself. The children, at that time, ranged in age from 5 through 10. It was a terrible thing for us to hear. We had not seen Gary in years. He lived in a town about 15 miles away so we rarely, if ever, saw him. But, that was not the point. The point was that our hearts broke for him and those children. How would they go on? And Mary...she was so young. Life is not supposed to be like that. She was not supposed to die so young. We sent a card and kept up with his story through friends of friends. After a while, the story began to fade in our minds and life got back to normal. In all honesty, that was 3 years ago, and I have not really thought about it too much in a while. Life gets busy and we go on, right or wrong.
So, when I met this girl at school who said that she was Gary's girlfriend, I was thrilled. His life did go on, and he found a really nice girl. He got a second chance at love. That made my heart so happy. I was so glad to hear that he (and the kids) were doing okay after such a traumatic event. The best past of the story was how they met. This girl (Keelyn) is an elementary school teacher in the town where Gary lives. She was his daughter's first grade teacher. His daughter, having lost her Mom, did not have a strong female figure in her life and began to pull towards Keelyn. She seemed to see her as more than just a teacher. Parent-teacher conferences came around, and Gary went to her classroom to meet his daughter's teacher. They spoke of his daughter, and Keelyn told Gary to call her anytime if he had any questions. They communicated through notes in his daughter's school planner for a few weeks. One in which Gary wrote that he needed to speak to Keelyn and asked if he could call her. She said yes and wrote her school number down. Well, he did call, but it happened to be while she was in class. After school, she tried to call him back from her home and reached him. They spoke for a while about his daughter, then he asked her if she would like to have dinner sometime. The rest is history.
Keelyn, being a divorced Mom of three herself, had a hard time ever imaging that anyone would want to date her. She always asked herself, "Who would ever want to date a divorced mother of three kids?" Well, now she finally had her answer: A widowed father with four kids!
They are currently looking into building a house big enough for 2 adults and 7 kids, and I am sure marriage is not far in their future. They are taking it slow and allowing their two families to merge together in their own time. Sounds a bit like a real life Brady Bunch, huh? It's not television, though. This is a real story with real people. I always say that everything in life happens for a reason. Sometimes, it just takes a while for us to find what that reason was. God reveals himself in his own time. I so love a happy ending!