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My Funny Valentine
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In celebration of Valentine’s Day, Connect talked to these four Savannah couples.
Lara Howell Evans and   Tim Evans
Meet the lovers:
Lara Howell Evans, now 21. This SCAD sound design major and part time barrista is a native of Charleston. She’s a mostly self taught musician who sings, plays the guitar and the djembe.
Tim Evans, now 22. This psychology student commutes each week to classes at College of Charleston, and to his job as director of youth and music ministries at West Shore Episcopal Church. 
Relationship status when they met:
Both lived in Charleston. Lara was 20, seeing someone else, and relocating to Savannah. Tim was 21 and single.
First meeting, first impressions:
September 2005 in a recording studio in Charleston.
Lara: “We hit it off right away. At first I didn’t think I would like him and I didn’t really want to. I liked him enough to ask him to hang out with me the next week, in Savannah. I wasn’t smitten. I was interested in him as a person but not like, ‘man, I wonder if this guy is going to take me out or what?’ He was smitten though. I could tell.”
Tim: “She seemed to have an authenticity about her that was different than everybody else.”
Lara: “After we started talking I found out that he was a youth minister. I thought that was cool. Because when you’re a Christian you want someday to end up with another Christian. I kind of thought he was a booze hound at first. When I found out he was a minister I thought there may be some sort of hope.” 
Telling Mom:
Tim: “I called my mother that day and told her I met the girl I was going to marry. She’ll attest to that.”
Making the commitment:
Lara: “He kept asking me to be his girlfriend and I kept saying no. And then one day he asked me to marry him. Somewhere between when he asked me to be his girlfriend and asking me to marry him I kinda decided I liked him a lot.”
Tim: “We became a couple on October 14 and got engaged November 15.”
Lara: “I kind of knew it was going to happen. He was freaking out about things and that’s how he gets. We drove to a private island, it’s the type of place where you send your kids on Christian retreats. It has a big wooden cross and a wooden worship chapel. He took me in there and he said a bunch of sweet things. He was down on one knee. You can’t say no to that.”
Lara: “My mom is white and my dad is black and so the interracial thing really wasn’t a problem, but they weren’t keen on me getting married ever, so they weren’t keen on my getting engaged at age 20. A lot of my friends said we were too young except for the Christian ones. They were excited about it. Everyone had a comment about the pace.” 
The wedding:
June 2, 2006, at Folly Beach Pier on James Island, South Carolina.
Happily ever after:
Tim: “She was my first real girlfriend and I grew up with all brothers so I knew nothing about women, I’m having to learn that.”
Lara: “It’s like boot camp.”
Tim: “She needs her space.”
Lara: “I need my space. It’s an adjustment period. Getting used to having a roommate that shares the same bed with you and leaves the toilet seat up. Communication. That’s hard.”
Lara: “Before I was a Christian I never wanted to be married so I never dreamed of having that perfect ‘Ken’ husband. One thing is you can’t be selfish and independent when you’re married. I’m not used to that.”
Tim: “I thought as soon as we were married I would start learning more about her. I didn’t realize how much I would learn about myself in that process.”
Lara: “I’ve learned how to clean a bathroom. He’s better at things than I am. Important things in life that you have to learn, like patience and selflessness. I learn about that in how he treats me.”
Donna Shannon and
Mike Hogan
Meet the lovers:
Donna Shannon, now 61. The Minnesota native is a former career flight attendant, now a designer and business owner. In 2005 she was living in Savannah, with dating profiles on eharmony and a few other internet dating sites.
Mike Hogan, now age 58. Retired in 1996 from a 30 year career in the Canadian navy and had owned a business in Windsor, Ontario Canada where he lived. In 2005 he was planning a move to Vancouver Island in western Canada.
Relationship status when they met:
Donna was 60, divorced for 1 ½ years from her second husband. Her first husband of 30 years died in 1996. 
Mike was 56, unmarried for 25 years and “recovering from a bad relationship” that had ended nine months earlier.
First meeting, first impressions:
Mike: “I saw her picture on eharmony. Something in her face said to me, ‘I can learn something from this woman.’”
Donna: “I was about ready to get off eharmony and then he wrote me. He didn’t have a tan, he didn’t have a Harley and he has teeth so I thought he was great! He was well spoken and literate. We had both traveled a lot. We had a lot in common.”
Mike: “Her mind is artistic and mine is technical. My mind is linear and hers sees the big picture. I thought we could compliment each other.”
Donna: “From the beginning I felt like I knew him. We were totally comfortable.” 
Making the commitment:
Mike: “She invited me here for Christmas for three weeks. I stayed for two months.”
Mike: “She told me in advance that she’s always late but when she was an hour and a half late to pick me up at the airport I was thinking ‘Oh my God, what am I going to do, get a hotel room?’ She was this little bundle of apology for being late. All I cared about was she was there.”
Donna: “Our plan was to meet at the airport, no talking, and then come back to the house and have sex! But then when I was so late he was upset.”
Mike: “I was worried.”
Donna: “And then I bumped another car with my car as we were leaving the airport. So our fantasy got wrecked, but the sex part still worked out.”
Mike moved to Savannah in early 2006.
Telling Mom:
Donna: “I told my mom he was a keeper, and she said, ‘Where are you going to keep him?’”
The wedding -- Oct. 9, 2006, at the   Chatham County Courthouse:
Donna: “We were working away on this house (a pink 1875 Victorian.) Over the summer, we started saying ‘Should we get married today or should we paint?’ We decided that on the first rainy day when we couldn’t paint, we would get married, but it never rained. We got sick of saying it every morning. Finally it rained on October 9.”
Mike: “We parked behind the courthouse and plugged the meter with all the quarters we had. It gave us an hour and twenty minutes. We started calling the judges. The coordinator for Judge Coolidge said to be there in ten minutes and we could get married. We were there in five. Afterwards we went to Carlito’s to get a frozen margarita to go, and then went to the Sentient Bean and Donna got her coffee. That was our honeymoon.”
Martha Womack and
Margaret Conner
Meet the lovers:
Martha Womack, now age 56. A psychologist practicing in Savannah who grew up in Atlanta.
Margaret Conner, now age 55. This Cumming, Ga., native is an entrepreneur and small business owner.
First meeting, first impressions:
In 1974, Margaret was 22, unattached, and a mental health assistant at a psychiatric hospital for adolescents in Atlanta.
Martha was “23 or 24,” in a relationship, and working at the same facility as a special education teacher.
Martha: “At first it was hanging out with a lot of friends. We all gaggled around together.”
Margaret: “It was a whole mixed group—straight, gay, men, women.”
Margaret: “She was really fun to be around and kind of strange.”
Martha: “She had a great sense of humor. Very playful. Very funny and cute. At that time I considered myself very much a feminist and so I expected to be very much attached to my female friends. One night all of sudden it was just me and Marg sitting together. We had known each other for over a year.”
Margaret: “And then we had a discussion. We had a mutual attraction.”
Martha: “We had to really talk.”
Margaret: “Now I say, ‘Do we have to talk?’”
First commitment ceremony:
Martha and Margaret exchanged rings privately on St. Simon’s Island in the early 1980s.
Martha: “I had bought these rings…”
Margaret: “And I lost mine…”
Martha: “Right away. Prior to the trip I bought very simple gold rings. We went down to the beach and I gave Margaret her ring.”
Margaret: “That’s right….”
Martha: “I said, ‘I have one too.’”
Margaret: “And she did.”
Martha: “Margaret’s ring was too small or too big. We were walking up the beach the next day and the ring got lost.”
Margaret: “I slung it off and we searched and searched and couldn’t find it.”
Martha: “We spent hours walking and looking.”
Second commitment ceremony:
In June 2006 Martha and Margaret held a commitment celebration to celebrate their 30 years together. 140 family members and friends traveled from around the U.S. to a ceremony and reception in the Trolley Barn in midtown Atlanta.
Martha: “The first thing we did was pick the place. Where I wanted to do it was in the old courthouse in Atlanta, because in reality we can’t walk into the courthouse and get married. And, we do not call it marriage.”
Margaret: “Thirty years. We decided that was remarkable…”
Martha: “Time enough…”
Margaret: “…and we wanted to celebrate it. And Martha’s family reunion was going to be in Atlanta in June. We started talking about it at another reunion in 2005. We went to another family wedding and people said, ‘Y’all need to get married.’ We said, ‘Hell no, we’re not doing that.’”
Martha: “Then we realized the reunion would be in Atlanta the next year and we thought we could do it. We said, ‘We will next summer.’”
Margaret: “Pandemonium broke out. People who were not going to come to that reunion decided they would when they realized we were going to have a big celebration.”
Telling the family:
Margaret: “I said something to my family last year for the first time when I sent the invitation out. That was the first time I said anything directly.”
Martha: “That’s true. It took 30 years for her to decide to have a conversation.”
Margaret: “And I didn’t, I just sent the card.”
Martha: “I’ve been going to family events forever.”
Margaret: “We were out to your family but not to my family. Not directly. My mother’s comment was, ‘Hmmmmmm.’ I said ‘Well, we’ve been together for 30 years,’ and she said, ‘Well I knew it had been a long time.’”
Margaret: “We got a child! We had a child who is 22.”
Martha: “Who came in the middle of the planning.”
Margaret: “You know how that is with couples, the unexpected child.”
Martha: “My 22-year-old niece came to live with us in January 2006 and became our wedding planner.”
Margaret: “And helped us a lot.”
Martha: “That really changed our lives. It has been a wonderful thing. And all through the history of our relationship there are always unexpected things happening. That’s what long term commitment is about. Going with whatever emerges and what happens…”
Margaret: “…and still having that commitment.”
Martha: “The unexpected is wanting to be together… and wanting to be together… and wanting to be together. Having it happen all the time. Having that feeling come whooshing through.”
Chris and Barbara Gooby
Meet the lovers:
Barbara Namkoong Gooby, now age 48. Raised in North Carolina, this classically trained mezzo-soprano was living in Durham. She also worked in fundraising and academic administration. She has a law degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.
Chris Gooby, now age 53. An aspiring novelist and a City of Savannah planning specialist, he grew up in Vermont and has a degree in history and religion. He has lived in Savannah since 1988.
Relationship status when they met:
He was 50, she was 45.
Chris: “I had been single for 50 years basically, give or take a few weeks here and there.”
Barbara: She had ended a relationship a year earlier and had never married.
The wedding:
May 21, 2005 at St. Philips Episcopal Church in Durham.
Chris: “I wasn’t completely sure at first about a big church wedding.”
Barbara: “Because my father died in 2002, my mother walked me down the aisle.”
Happily ever after:
Barbara: “Literally the day after the honeymoon I had a lump the size of the tip of my thumb on the left side of my jaw. I thought, ‘Oh, I’ve picked something up from the scuba equipment’” from their Virgin Islands honeymoon. “At first they thought it might be mono and gave me some anti-inflammatories.” 
On July 18, two months after their wedding day, Barbara was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. For the next nine months she was treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, and is now cancer free.
Barbara: “I’d been up to Duke University for my second opinion, and I looked around their cancer facility. They had a patient resource center there, a library, a place where you could get wigs and hats. I was pretty impressed. When I finished chemo here the Lewis Cancer Pavilion had just opened. I saw they didn’t have much patient support, so I developed this little outline of what I thought a patient resource center should look like and talked to the administrative director there and said ‘This is what we need.’”
September 6, 2006 was Barbara’s first day as program coordinator at the Nancy N. and J.C. Lewis Cancer and Research Pavilion, which includes developing and managing the Survivor Resource Center.
Chris: “So every cloud has a silver lining.”
Barbara: “But I wouldn’t have made it through without this guy.”
When Chris’ father died in October 2006, it was Barbara’s turn to be the support for Chris.
Chris: “One of the surprises for me is that it is so easy. We both married late in our lives, we’ve both been basically single, had our own routines and our own places. I thought changing that would take more effort than it has.”
Barbara: “I think we are both patient with each other, we’re very secure with each other.”
Chris: “We were meant to meet when we did, late.   I still have an occasional, ‘Wow, I’m married’ moment.” 
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