Shirley had no interest in dating—not just online dating but the 61-year-old paralegal living in the Houston area was not looking to marry again after her first husband passed away. But she had a doctor who wouldn’t let up, asking her several times—over a period of years—if she was dating anyone.
Finally, Shirley decided to join an online site. “It gave me something to offer the doctor, whom I suspected felt I was not advancing past the grieving stage,” she said.
The first site she tried was a secular one and it didn’t meet her taste or values. The ad for CatholicMatch on the back of her parish bulletin caught her eye and she decided to give it six months. “If anything I knew I could meet interesting friends who shared my widowhood,” she said, recalling her thoughts at the time.
Six months had nearly come and gone and there was no kindling romance in the works. That was fine with Shirley. “I had decided this would suffice as my attempt to move on,” she candidly admitted. But one week before the subscription lapsed she got a message from a businessman, five years older than she and also in the Houston area. “Jim contacted me saying we appeared to be a 100% match,” Shirley recalled.
Jim and Shirley first met face-to-face at a CatholicMatch event and then begin getting together for dates that always began with Mass. She was doing her level best not to fall in love again—“I only intended to marry once in my life,” she pointed out. But she also couldn’t help but notice “Jim was such a gentleman… gentle, compassionate, and kind.”
Their dates had a simple quality to them that brought out a true romantic feeling. “We walked on The Strand and the beach in Galveston; strolled through the Kemah Boardwalk,” Shirley told CatholicMatch. And they continued to attend Mass together, taking turns attending each other’s parishes.
But it wasn’t these dates that made the biggest impression on Shirley. It was what Jim did for others. He brought the Eucharist to homebound parishioners, including a married couple with Alzheimer’s and dementia. “I watched him interacting with these people in the most loving way. He spoke to them as though there wasn’t any disability…I couldn’t help but fall in love with someone who embodied all the good qualities this world has to offer.”
A process that had begun mainly so Shirley could return to her doctor to in say “This is what I’ve done, I’ve moved on” and ensure that the doctor and others in her family could leave her alone, was drawing her deeper into love.
She had mentioned to Jim a song she liked, “Tell It Like It Is”, by Aaron Neville. He went out of his way to buy the song, and they danced to it in front of the fireplace at a home he’d bought and renovated. On her next visit, they danced their again and this time he proposed marriage. Jim assured Shirley he didn’t need an answer then, and he didn’t get one.
Their next time together was a trip to a cabin, and Jim assured Shirley he had no plans to broach the topic again. “Since this was a Leap Year it should be me who should ask him for his hand in marriage,” she recalled.
The cabin trip was a test to see how they would respond to several days with each other and Shirley decided that indeed it was time. She “proposed” back to Jim, her way of delivering what she called a “resounding, affirmative yes.”
When Shirley lost her husband it was more than just not wanting to date again. She really didn’t know who she was or what she would be again. God brought her through it, and to a good man who shared her not just her faith, but her values and appreciation of the simple things.
The wedding took place on St. Patrick’s Day and they have started building a new life together, Their home is the one Jim renovated and where they first danced to Aaron Neville. It was a house Jim originally intended to sell as an investment, but instead became the foundation of a new life.
Shirley retired from full-time work, though she still helps her daughter, who is an attorney, with paralegal work. She’s also worked at learning Jim’s business from his daughter.
Life is full of blessings for Jim and Shirley. They let God lead them and found the way to a new beginning.