{Contest} "Great Love Story" Finalists

To say "Virginia Is For Lovers" is a total understatement! Your entries for the "Great Love Story" have been unbelievable and touching. Thank you for inviting me into your lives and sharing them with me! 

I sat down last night and read through each entry with my fellow judge (my husband and baby-daddy, though you may known him better around Mechanicsville as the "CD Fairy" delivering your images!). He's also quite a softy, and easily persuaded me to graduate all 10 entries into the voting process! So, my friends, your finalists are as follows, in the order of their entries. Happy reading!!

REMINDER! Voting begins immediately, and ends January 31st. Finalists will receive 1 vote for each:

Kim & Kenny 

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May 21st 1985 - my fiancé, Kenny, and I were 15 years old, he asked me to “go with him” (80’s term for dating) we dated exclusively and were inseparable for 6 years. We lived together for the last 3 years of our relationship. By the time we both turned 21, our relationship was falling apart and we split up. I moved to Texas and Kenny remained in Virginia. Not a single day went by that I did not think about Kenny even though I had moved on and married, and had children. I had always dreamed, hoped, and prayed that one day Kenny and I would get back together. We were each other’s “first loves” and I knew he was my soul mate. Over the years I would return to Va. To visit my family and I ALWAYS made a point to visit Kenny’s aunt just to keep up with what was going on in his life, in hopes of maybe getting back together one day. Eventually I moved back to Va. And in 2007 I had a “MYSPACE” acct... One day I was searching for friends and Kenny was the one I was searching for the most. I found Kenny’s profile on MySpace and didn’t hesitate for a minute to send him a personal message. Within 2 days I got a response back from him stating that he was SOOOO EXCITED that I had found him. He had tried several times to locate me, but was unable because my last name had changed. We communicated for several weeks and agreed to meet for a lunch date. In Sept. of 2007 after our lunch date, we both agreed that we would get back together and NEVER leave each other’s side again, as we both knew it was meant to be and we truly were soul mates. We have been living together since then and have blended our family together over the years. I have 3 sons and Kenny has 2 sons. We also have a male Golden Retriever. We plan to marry and make it official when we are a little better off financially. Kenny says that I deserve the perfect fairy tale wedding and would like to give that to me for all the years that I continued to love him and search for him. I kept a lot of memorabilia from us when we were teens and we tell everybody “our love” story. There is so much more to tell about our journey and I often thought of writing a book. I think the most amazing part of this is that Kenny’s parents divorced when he was young and 17 years later, they reconnected and remarried. (And are still married today) Kenny and I were separated for EXACTLY 17 years also and reconnected, so this is our sign that it’s MEANT TO BE FOR US!

Rachel & Zach

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My boy toy (don't tell him I called him that ;) ), Zach, and I do not have a romantic "how we met" story because we were friends before we dated. We do, however, have a cute story for the beginning of our relationship.

On my birthday (FIVE years ago), Zach surprised me with a scavenger hunt... but not the run-of-the-mill, boring kind. Instead, Zach left me an envelope. Inside was a picture of where the hiding place of a birthday present was, and on the back was a "compliment." It’s been long enough now that I can't remember all of them, but my favorite and the one that sticks with me was a picture of an oven as a "clue" and on the back of the clue he wrote "you are the nicest person I know." To find the surprise present, I truly had to go to Zach's house and peek inside his oven, which were homemade cookies Zach had baked himself. 

By the end of the scavenger hunt he had hidden 5 or 6 little presents like that, each clue with its own little note for me.  To this day it’s my favorite present and just shows what a sweet and thoughtful person Zach is.

Raegan & Pretty Girl

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"Man's best friend." "A boy and his dog." These phrases bring about nostalgic images of Lassie, Ol' Yeller, and every picture of a boy fishing on the dock with his faithful friend right by his side. But what about the girls?  Where are the stories about the love between "man's best friend" and little Suzie?  Ever since I was a little girl, I have been inspired (and let's admit it, a little obsessed) with dogs. I've always felt a certain connection with our K9 counterparts, so naturally, when I had a little girl of my own, I hoped and prayed that she, too. would share a love for all the dogs in her life.  And of course, I hoped that the dog in our life, Pretty Girl, would share a love for her new family member as well.  But I could only imagine how much love I would witness one Sunday morning, just a few months after Raegan was born.

As a bit of a precursor, you have to understand that Pretty, our 6 year old rescue pit bull, has always been a big softy.  She may be the alpha when she's around other dogs, but in daily life, you'd think the world was out to get her.  Storm drains are like black holes of doom; the vacuum is lovingly referred to as "nemesis" in our home; and she is so afraid of the smoke detector that  even the sound of the vent fan on the stove still sends her running to hide.  Without hesitation, if that smoke detector goes off, Pretty will bolt up the stairs as fast as she can and curl up in a tight ball on her bed in a corner of our room. 

So, on that typical Sunday morning, as my husband prepared breakfast, the burnt bits of toast at the bottom of the toaster created just enough smoke for our detector to sound off.  And, just as expected, I hear and see Pretty rush up the stairs. Now, my first thought is not "poor pup!" because it's just so commonplace that we don't give it much attention at all anymore. No, my first thought was "Eek! I hope that doesn't wake up the baby!" because as any mom knows, nap time is almost sacred during those first few months.  But as Pretty ran up the stairs, she did not make a beeline for her usual hiding spot. This time, she paused at the top of the stairs, gently nosed open the baby's bedroom door and stood quietly in the doorway near the crib for just a few seconds before walking out and laying beside her door.  Protector. To witness such a loving act between a girl and her dog touched me so deeply that it still brings tears to my eyes when I think, and write, about it.  It warms my heart to know that the dog that we love so dearly cares deeply enough for this little baby, that she would put the baby's safety before her own.  And that, I think, is one great love story.

Carmen & Sophia

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Carmen and here daughter were nominated by Carmen's friend, Nikki. 

This is my friend Carmen and her four year old daughter Sophia. Carmen is a single mother finishing up college at Longwood University. She’s trying to get through school so she can support her and her daughter. Carmen loves music, she can play guitar and sings/writes her own songs. Showing she is still about to enjoy the little things while enduring the struggles of being a single mom. I believe she deserves to win because of her love and devotion to her daughter.

Mary & Sons

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It's worth noting that Mary's friend Dee Dee also nominated her to win this contest. Both entries are beautiful, but for brevity's sake I've included Mary's own entry below:

I have fallen in love 3 times before I even knew his name(s).

They knew the sound of my voice, the rhythm of my  walk and my touch before I saw their face or even knew their name. I loved the flutter that at first made you stop and think, ‘oh was that’. That later became full kicks and elbow jabs. 

Yes, my 3 sons are the love of my life. Like all Moms  I juggle being mom, teacher, chauffeur, cheerleader, cook, housekeeper and nurse. In exchange, I get to watch my them grow and become amazing young men! 

Vickie & Philip

This wonderful couple was nominated by their son with this beautiful entry:

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My parents, Vickie and Philip, are a dying breed.  The two met in high school and today they have been married for thirty plus years, still live in the house they build together in their 30’s and have raised three sons, the eldest  bringing the two their first grandchild.   Even though my brothers and I have moved out, weekly Sunday dinners continue to happen.  Mainly because we no one makes food like your mother, especially PB&J’s or those perfect grilled cheeses, but mainly for the laughs, lessons and good times.  The love between my parents is very apparent, with the evidence of their years as only a badge, but in my biased opinion, the true evidence is their three sons, Matt the eldest, myself, and Kirby, and the love, sacrifices, and support the two gave us.

In the beginning, my parents were two high school kids.  If this was Hollywood, I was cue John Mellencamp’s “Jack and Diane”.  Matt, unfortunately born premature, came a few years later while my dad, Philip, was in college at James Madison.  My mother, still in Richmond, worked at an insurance company for Matt’s early years, and when Phil graduated, he returned to Richmond to work full time and earned his MBA from the University of Richmond. Seven years after Matt, I came into the family, and three years later Kirby followed suit.  Since earning his MBA, Philip has worked as an accountant for multiple national companies here in Richmond, which allowed our mother to run the business of the house.  Even as a child, I knew there were times, tax season or the end of the year or month, Dad may have to work late, and that he was doing it for all of us.  It may sound simple or routine, but to have a mother who is able to stay at home is a luxury.  Even with this, neither missed more than a couple of our baseball or football games and there was rarely a year of little league that our father didn’t coach one of our teams.  Our mother’s voice echoing out of the stands was legendary and is probably talked about as lore at some little leagues.  Yearly vacations to the beach, which car rides could last multiple hours longer than anticipated, because even if we stopped five minutes prior, Dad would stop on the slightest request for a restroom or the need of rations. 

Our parents, in no doubt provided every material good and ounce of support we could need.  None of us ever went hungry, which is still evident in my brothers’ and my figures, nor did we ever lack entertainment.  Ultimately, the best thing our parents have given us is the platform to succeed.   We had all the encouragement we could ever need, yet had heard the word “No”.   When anyone of us struggled with anything from school to sports, our parents were the first ones there to help us study or take us to the batting cage or gym.  The times when I made a mistake, they have been the ones there to first ask what I was thinking, but more importantly help me correct it.  Ultimately, my parents don’t represent the greatest love story because of their relationship, but because of how they have been parents to me and my two brothers.  Whether it was when we were in the batters’ box with a full count in the bottom of the ninth, on a football field for the last play, taking a test in school or now when we are all together playing with the newest member of the family, Matt’s daughter Presley, we know that we have two of the greatest people behind us to support and provide for us any way they possibly could.

Lindsay & Brooke

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Our Sisterita Love started almost 24 years ago—which, in and of itself sounds crazy, and makes us feel OLD. Brooke and I are affectionately known as sisteritas, and share a love of life, quotes, Pinterest, food, and working out—to say the least. We have obviously had that sisterly love for as long as we can remember, but a few years ago fitness totally and completely brought us EVEN closer. It’s safe to say that fitness is our strongest ;) love. Whether we’re sweating next to each other, or working out in different zip codes, we keep each other motivated, gush over workouts, healthy recipes, and everything in between. As cliché as it may sound, it’s so amazing to see your passion shared with someone you love and the domino effect that it creates. We thrive on positivity. And sweat. Our love for each other, for our health as individuals, and for those we’ve encountered along the way has shaped our lives more than was ever thought possible. We are both so grateful for this love and are confident that it’s a love that will help us see a long, healthy, and happy life together—forever as Sisteritas.

Gayle & Mick

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Gayle & Mick were nominated by their loving daughter, Maggie. Her submission is below:

It was the late 1970's.  The setting is a bar called No Fish Today in Baltimore, Maryland.  There's a beautiful young woman sitting at the bar, drink in hand.   Her name is Gayle.  She has just decided that she is completely done with men, doesn't want anything to do with them or relationships with them.  But then a man walks up to her.  He asks her to dance.  The day was April Fools Day, so she thought he was joking.  She didn't want a man, didn't need a man and then here is this handsome guy asking her to dance.  Mick was not joking, and Gayle agreed to dance.  They danced all night that night. That was almost 34 years ago.

 If you visit Baltimore today, you won't find No Fish Today, it has long since closed.  In the city, the scenes have changed, along with the characters, fashion, music, etc.  But travel south a bit to Mechanicsville, Virginia.  You will find Mick and Gayle are together still.  They fell in love, got married and had two daughters.  One daughter now has three girls of her own.  Gayle wasn't looking for a man on that Fool's day many years ago, but he found her and love found them. 

Christine & Ryan

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Our meeting story is not grand, but I realized after loving someone for so long it's the little things that turn into the best stories. To set the scene: Ryan is in the National Guard and was gone for 6 months for Basic Training in Oklahoma. Meanwhile Christine (me) was at home working and attending Grad School first time. Our only contact was letters that most often told news a few days late. The most exciting thing was to arrive home and see a letter with his handwriting waiting in our mailbox. One letter in particular will always be one of the best and has now been framed in our house. 

So, I have this quirky thing about White Butterflies. I have no idea how it started, but a few years ago they became my symbol for "Today's going to be a good day", and I still say it every time I see one.

Real except from his letter:

I forgot to tell you, the one good thing about Oklahoma is the amount of butterflies. Every time I see one I instantly think about you. On a sunny day I see 5-6 and think "Today's going to be a good day" followed by 100 pushups. 

It's one of those things I never realized he was actually listening to me. It's now my favorite thing about Richmond, because you see a lot of white butterflies here too.

Jen & Family

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During middle school I was teased pretty badly and to make matters worse, my boyfriend dumped me 3 days before Valentine's Day. Needless to say, I didn't want to go to school that Tuesday for Valentine's day. I came home Monday prepared to make my case to my mom to let me skip school for "mental health reasons." I went upstairs to drop off my backpack and found a brand new Express outfit and the newest Monica cd on my bed. My mom walked in and told me she wanted me to feel as beautiful on the outside as I am on the inside. Without any protest, I went to school the next day feeling great. During lunchtime, I was called down to the front office. My dad was standing there with a dozen roses. He told me he loved me and he was proud of me. I spent the rest of the day the envy of all of the girls in school with my roses and new outfit. I had the two best valentines that year.