By Elaine Stevens//
“Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.” These words are among the myriad of spiritually romantic writings by 13th century poet, mystic, and theologian, Rumi. Others have expressed it over the centuries in song and sonnet, but how does finding the perfect one for you relate in today’s romantic environment? Introductions by friends or relatives, meeting at church, or rediscovery at a high school reunion appear to be methods of the past. Today, statistics indicate at least one third, if not more, of U.S. marriages start with online dating, whether it be Facebook, Instagram, or dating websites and services. You get hooked up via a text, email, or post, then you may get hooked on someone. That doesn’t sound very romantic, but statistics show many have reported great successes. Gulf Coast Woman interviewed two couples who did just that…well, let’s just say, their coupling was far more personal.
Here are their stories:
CREE CANTRELL & COLBY HARRELSON
Edward “Cree” Cantrell met his beloved Colby Paige Harrelson four years ago over seafood at the popular Desporte & Sons Seafood in Biloxi.
“I always bought all of my seafood from Colby’s family and saw her in the shop,” says Cantrell, a 27-year old financial advisor. “She had a liveliness and charisma that struck me.”
Too shy to approach her, Cantrell was urged to ask her out by Harrelson’s uncle. Instead, he made it a point to eat in the Desporte Deli a lot — hoping to muster up the courage. Cantrell says “unfortunately” the conversations at first went something like this:
Cantrell: “What’s good here?”
Harrelson: “Well, the tuna dip is great!”
Cantrell: “OK, great. I’ll have the tuna dip. See you around.”
In most cases, women have to be the first to indicate interest before anything happens and that’s what Harrelson did. Though the first date over lunch went “wonderfully” according to Cantrell, he wondered why Harrelson didn’t sound excited when he finally managed to ask her out.
“Cree, you sounded so business-like. I thought I was agreeing to meet with my banker instead of a first date!”
Apparently the couple managed to work through the business-like behavior. They are getting married Feb. 20, 2016.
Describing love and marriage as “sacred” to them both, they wanted to take the time to get it right — the first and only time.
“Our falling in love has been less like a romantic movie plot and more a gradual growing together,” Cantrell says.
As far as he is concerned, Harrelson is the “total package of beauty, elegance, sophistication, and compassion,” but there is more to knowing for certain he has found “the one.”
“I have found someone who loves me exactly as I am, and that makes me truly fulfilled,” Cantrell says.
JACK ROSEN III & CONNIE MORAN
The romantic tale of the Honorable Mayor Connie Moran of Ocean Springs and her now-husband of slightly more than a year, Jack Rosen III, is quite a bit different. Both in their 50s and hoping the second time around would prove far more successful than their first marriages, Rosen and Moran were immediately intrigued with one another New Year’s Eve in Mobile in 2012.
“We must have been engrossed in each other in our initial conversation because two guys dressed in black suits and ties stood right beside us,” Moran says. “Later, we realized that one had ripped the inside pocket of Jack’s jacket and stolen most of the cash out of his wallet!”
Spending the past eight years healing from a divorce, raising a special needs child, and becoming mayor right after Katrina struck, Moran says she had little time or energy to devote to romance, until that fateful New Year’s Eve. So was it love at first sight? Not really. More like, love at first prayer.
Before going to Mobile, she made a stop by the Grand Hotel in Point Clear where her parents had spent their honeymoon in 1949.
“I enjoyed watching the families of several generations celebrating together,” she says. “Then I went to the Point on the grounds over Mobile Bay and prayed for the Lord to send me a companion. Several hours later, I met Jack.”
The couple married less than two years later at the Grand Hotel with the reception on the Point at “two minutes and 32 seconds past noon, Oct. 11, 2014.”
Getting to the Point was not easy, however, since they lived an hour apart. Moran said she not only questioned the intense fascination of their first meeting, but also was concerned about moving forward with a serious relationship at her age. Encouragement would come in the way of a memorable and final conversation with her birth mother, Claudia Fishburne.
“She told me to write down all my feelings to him or to myself in a letter, but not to mail it, adding it would help me sort it out,” Moran says. “One hour later she passed away of heart failure. I am so glad I spoke with her.”
Laughingly, Moran describes the romance like a movie: “sometimes exhilarating, sometimes sad, sometimes hilarious, but never ho-hum.” There were differences to work out like routines, politics, and homemade cranberry compote with jalapeno and cassis for Thanksgiving versus Ocean Spray in the can. Rosen prefers the latter. In spite of that, cupid’s arrow struck because Rosen made her feel beautiful (she dropped some weight and grew her hair long) and she was always grinning.
“On Valentine’s day, he called me to talk about what ‘love’ means to him,” Moran says. “I was flabbergasted that a man could talk about love and relationships so frankly.”
Rosen’s kindness towards Moran’s daughter, his strong family values, his belief in God, and his love for animals proved even more convincing than his smooth talking.
“He really loves my cats,” she says. “The cats would have rejected him; they know these things.”
Certain now that love can happen at any age and with a lot less pressure when you are older, Moran says Rosen has answered her prayers, adding with a smile, “I’m happier than ever, having more fun, living and loving.”