The cliché’ love will find you when you least expect applies in the case of my husband and I. When we were 23 years old in 2000, I was browsing the personals section on yahoo.com. When I answered his ad, it was not to meet in hopes of being able to one day write a love story. I simply noted he was 23, just like me, and lived in the same town as me. I sent a note to him saying I was also 23 and living in Pocahontas. Later Shawn told me my deliberate attempt not to reveal myself was what intrigued him into writing me back. I simply wanted to know if he was someone I attended school with and who before telling him who I was. After two emails I learned he moved to Pocahontas after graduating high school in a nearby town.
My mom, in a psychic moment, told me to ask who his parents were when she learned Shawn’s surname. My mom attended school with Shawn’s dad back in the 1960’s and she suspected it before we knew anything more than Shawn’s surname. Soon we learned Shawn’s dad and my uncle had been best friends in junior high school. Not long later we planned our first date and in so doing learned we lived two blocks apart in a town of 6,000 people. We were neighbors but it took an Internet site for us to find each other!
We dated for one year before becoming engaged. During this time, we learned there was a connection between my father’s side of the family and Shawn’s mother’s side of the family. My grandmother went to school with Shawn’s grandfather in the 1930’s. Our great-grandfathers had been best friends. My paternal grandmother had even been born in Shawn’s great-great grandfather’s home!
Our love grew quickly. During the time before the engagement, I underwent two operations. Shawn knew about my history of cancer. Neither of us knew about the Cowden Syndrome yet. I knew he loved me when he cried as I was upset before one of the surgeries. Within two weeks of that surgery, we were engaged. The details of the engagement are not romantic. He did not get down on one knee and ask me to marry him. We were simply walking through the store when I noted, “when are you going to buy me a ring like that (engagement rings) and he pulled one out of his pocket with the statement, “like this one?” I put the ring on and it was official. Within one year we were married.
Eight months later our son was on the way and by the time Owen was 1 ½ years old, our daughter Hannah was born. The early marriage wasn’t easy. We had a lot of disagreements and had to adapt to each other as well as two new children. Marriage continues to be a work in progress.
The funny part to this love story (at least to me as a family history fiend) was learning after a few months of marriage Shawn and I descended from a common ancestor who died in the war of 1812. We went through our courtship with my thinking we were not related (in spite of our mother/father’s sides knowing each other and our father/mother’s sides knowing each other) because it was meant to be but we were related. We are 6th cousins twice removed to each other, both of us are 7th cousins to our own children, and Owen and Hannah are not simply brother and sister but very distant cousins.
Only in Arkansas!