Evelyn, by any reasonable measurement, had enjoyed a fulfilling life when she decided to retire from her work as a school teacher and director. She had two great kids, the product of a marriage that had been annulled by the Church over 30 years ago. She had grandchildren, "whose hugs and kisses warm my heart."
She had a warm relationship with her sister, and a daughter-in-law to whom she was so close, that the "in-law" might as well be dropped. Evelyn's 90-year-old father was not only alive, but was filled with laughter and a shining example of one who found life worth living.
Indeed, when Evelyn retired, she received wonderful accolades from her peers and was clearly someone who had made a difference. But there was one piece missing, and it was a special someone to share a strong Catholic relationship.
"In prior relationships I had only known betrayal, disrespect, selfishness, indifference, psychological abuse, manipulation, a constant struggle to simply survive and keep smiling as my heart cried and wondered if love really existed," she said bluntly. Evelyn wondered if she was chasing something impossible or if perhaps she just didn't deserve better.
But the 67-year-old from the Orlando-area of Florida did not see this self-doubt as a reason for despair or giving up. Instead, she saw it as a reason to keep searching--to know that her retirement was not the end of the road, but the beginning of a new one.
"My soul searched frantically for that special someone upon whose soul mine could rest. Someone that would give me the respect, kindness, peace, unconditional support and love that I so much needed and never knew," she said.
Evelyn took her troubles to God, knelt down and asked his forgiveness for any errors in her past, and to entrust her life into His hands, and with the special intercession of the Blessed Virgin.
It didn't take long for God to respond. Two and a half hours away, living on the Gulf Coast of Florida, was Larry. He was 64-years-old and had enjoyed a long and happy marriage before his wife passed away. Larry had worked hard for 37 years to support his family and afford a few extras. He was still working part-time, installing air conditioning ductwork.
A little over a year after his wife passed away, Larry joined CatholicMatch. And shortly after Evelyn entrusted her life to God, she felt an interior nudge to join the online community here.
"One lazy Sunday afternoon I went to my computer and saw his profile and pictures among the others," Evelyn recalled. "Somehow I kept going back to him and felt the need and desire to communicate." Evelyn's approach was down-to-earth--she asked him if he would like to communicate as friends. It would turn into much more.
Larry and Evelyn began communicating daily, be it by email and then later phone and text. Three months later they met in person for the first time and already felt like they had known each other forever. Larry then began making a weekly drive to see Evelyn each Saturday.
"We visited parks, took hikes and talked for hours discovering little by little details of our past, learning about each other's idiosyncrasies, sharing our dreams for the future," Evelyn recalled. "And most importantly going to Mass together each Sunday holding each other's hand and praying for guidance in this new chapter of our respective lives."
Evelyn realized that in all her years of nurturing others--in her family and in her professional life--she had neglected to nurture herself. Now she had found a man, firmly rooted in Catholic faith and values, who was helping her do just that. On this most recent Labor Day, they became engaged, and will be married at the end of March.
It might have been later in life that Evelyn found the man that would truly cherish her, but she pointed out that this has its own blessing.
"We savor each day knowing that we do not have the luxury of time that the young have," she said. "But maybe relishing each other's company perhaps that much more for precisely that same reason. We hide nothing, we say what we feel, we laugh at each other's jokes, express our love for each other at all times, hold hands, embrace, pray together, trust, support, listen to each other's concerns, accept each other's shortcomings, are quick to say thank you for even the smallest thing."