This week, we had the Sister missionaries over for dinner and Susan decided to tell them the story of how she and I met and about our courtship. Naturally, we think it’s a great story, and I don’t remember writing it down, so I’d like to tell it here.
In November 2009, Susan was attending school in Washington State and was faced with a long wait to get into the classes she needed. Her daughter, Holly, suggested she come to Cleveland, Ohio, where she and her family were, because she would have no trouble enrolling there. This would also be a way for Susan to be involved in the lives of her daughter, son-in-law, and 2 grandchildren, which was very appealing for her.
Her first thought, however, was that there was no way it could work. But after much thought and prayer, she decided to make the attempt. Within a very short period she gave most of her earthly possessions away, and all other obstacles were removed.
So in early December, she began her journey to Ohio by car with her youngest son, Derek. A heavy Winter storm followed them much of the way, but never caught up to them before arriving in Cleveland.
Derek flew back to Washington while Susan settled into the upper floor of the duplex where Holly and her family were living, and began attending Cuyahoga Community College. She was also in the middle of divorcing her second husband.
Things went fairly smoothly for a couple of months. Then in February, Holly and her husband, Jim, sat down with Susan and told her they thought it would be best if she planned to move out by the Summer. They seemed to be well-intentioned and claimed to be thinking about what’s best for her. Nevertheless it was hard blow for Susan. She had come all that way, largely to be with Holly and her children, with little means of support and having forever left behind most of possessions. Now they wanted to kick her out.
Her divorced had just barely been finalized at that point so she decided it would be a okay to try to connect with a single man — just to talk if nothing else. She went online and found a couple of dating websites catering to LDS members, and decided to try LDSMingle.com
Now we’ll switch to my story. In early 2009, I had been forced to leave my house in Hartville, Ohio, for financial reasons, and move in with my mother in Randolph. It was a trying time in many ways, but also a blessing for me and my mother. By early 2010 things were beginning to look up. I had found a steady job with benefits (albeit low-paying and difficult work) and was finally living within my means. I had been involved in online dating my divorce in late 2005, and had been through a number of unsuccessful relationships.
When Susan’s profile appeared on LDSMingle, I took a chance and sent a “flirt” despite the fact that she had not posted a photo. She responded and we began messaging. Within a few days, we decided to talk on the phone. I was aware of a Single Adult church activity happening in the Solon ward in Mid-March and was intending to invite her to it, but she beat me by suggesting it before I did.
When I arrived to pick her up, I was pleasantly surprised by how nice she looked and acted. The activity went well. Susan happened to know another Sister who was there. The Sister was struggling and needed help with transportation, and I remember being impressed with how Susan offered to help her without hesitation and in a very matter-of-fact manner.
Afterward, we went to dinner and then I drove her home. She invited me inside and we watched a little television and talked some more. We seemed to be very comfortable with one another, but there came a moment when we didn’t have anything to say. At that point, Susan asked “so what are you thinking?”. I appreciated her interest in my thoughts, but couldn’t think of a sensible way to respond so I said “I’m thinking about marrying you”. I immediately felt silly, and expected her to push away after that surprise revelation. I don’t remember exactly how she responded, but she did not discourage the thought.
As we parted, we were both eager to continue the relationship so made plans to meet up again the very next day, which was Sunday. I picked her up and this time we went to Kirtland to tour the church historic sites.
As part of the tour, we went into a theater to watch a movie that told the story of how the church became established in Kirtland, and of how Joseph Smith decided to go there.
One scene shows Joseph arriving in Kirtland at a store owned by Newel K Whitney and going inside. Upon meeting Newell, Joseph introduced himself by saying “Newel K Whitney, thou art the man. I am Joseph the Prophet; you have prayed me here, now what do you want of me?”
Susan later revealed that at this point in the movie, instead of hearing “Newel K Whitney, thou art the man”, she heard “John Horning, thou art the man”.
When she went home, she told her daughter “I don’t know much about John, but I know I’m going to marry him.” I felt the same way about her.
We weren’t able to meet up the following day (Monday), but on Tuesday, Susan drove to Mogadore to meet up with me for just a few minutes before I had to report for work. As we sat in the car, the look on her face told me she loved me.
I don’t remember the point where we agreed to marry. Nevertheless we both knew it was the right thing to do and began making plans. Initially we talked about getting married in June or July. I formally proposed sometime in early April, still with the thought that the date was at least a month or two away. But things quickly came together quickly and we were married on April 25th, 2010 by her Bishop in the Mayfield Heights ward building.
1 1/2 years later, on Sept 17th, 2011, we were sealed in the Columbus Temple. It would have happened sooner, but my Bishop believed in caution and wanted us to delay such a serious commitment to be certain it was the right thing to do.
Now, 8 1/2 year after our wedding, Susan and I are still very much in love. She told the Sister missionaries this week that’s she’s never had a moment of regret about her decision to marry me. I feel the same way about her. We are a true team — solid and sure in our commitment to one another — now and forever.