VIRGINIA BEACH - 93-year-old Norwood Thomas received a phone call this past fall from someone he didn't recognize. Did the name Joyce Durrant mean anything to him, the caller asked. Norwood considered for a moment, then gasped in recognition.
Seventy years before, in the midst of WWII, Norwood had been a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne, fighting during the Invasion of Normandy (D-Day). During his time in England, he had met a girl and fallen in love with her. Her name was Joyce Durrant.
After Norwood received sudden orders forcing him to return home, he had written to Joyce, saying in one letter, “Why don’t you come and make my house a home?” Joyce mistook this to mean that he was already married and thinking of leaving his wife for her. That was the end of their communication.
Norwood eventually moved to Virginia, where he met and married another girl. His marriage was a happy one, lasting until Christmas Eve of 2001, when his wife passed away.
Joyce also married, had two sons, and moved to Australia. But her marriage was unhappy, and after 30 years, she and her husband divorced. Then one day last year, Joyce saw her son on his computer, and asked him, "Can you find people on that thing?" A few keystrokes later, she had her answer. There was an article online about her long-lost love skydiving for his 88th birthday! Her son contacted the writer of the article, who in turn put him in touch with Norwood.
On November 6, 2015, Joyce and Norwood saw each other for the first time in over 70 years - via Skype. News of the reunion soon spread, and several people donated money to cover travel expenses so the two sweethearts could meet in person.
On February 10, 2016, Norwood was finally able to give Joyce something he couldn't give via Skype - a hug (or a "squeeze" as he calls it). The pair spent Valentine's Day together, thoroughly enjoying their time with each other. Though they realize time may have gotten the better of them, they still plan on keeping in touch.
FRANKFORT, IL - Heather Krueger got some very bad news in March of 2014 - she had stage 4 liver disease. Less than two months later, she went into liver failure. Her doctors told her that her days were numbered. Her best bet was to find someone who was a match - and who was willing to donate a liver right away. But the question was: Could a match be located in time?
Enter former Marine, Chris Dempsey. Chris (a complete stranger to Heather) rarely ate lunch in the break room at Village Hall where he worked, but on this particular day, he did, and overheard Heather's cousin (a seasonal worker there) mention that Heather might die soon if a donor match could not be found for her. Chris thought about what it would be like if he was in her situation and knew he had to at least try to help.
In January of 2015, Heather got a call. The caller was Chris and he had some great news... he was a match and was willing to donate part of his liver! Chris also put together a fundraiser with his buddies to help with medical costs.
On March 16, 2015, in an 8-hour operation, Heather's liver was removed and 55% of Chris's healthy one was put in its place. For both Chris and Heather, the recovery process was slow, but during that time, they were able to get to know each other better. Their relationship became more than just a friendship.
Chris asked Heather's father for permission to marry his daughter, and received his blessing. On December 10, 2015, after dinner in downtown Chicago and a romantic carriage ride, Chris got down on one knee and asked Heather if she would spend the rest of her life with him. Heather was too happy for words (she did manage to reply in the affirmative). She and Chris plan to be married in October of this year. Both of their livers have successfully regenerated, and Heather is feeling great now - and thankful for her new best friend, Chris!
HOUSTON, TX - Vidal Valladares Navas, 24, had been dating Michelle Wycoff, 23, for several months and felt the time was right to pop the question. He thought about where and how to best go about this momentous occasion. He planned it all out with his friends.
December 13 was the big day. Vidal took his girlfriend out for a drive, under the guise of taking her to a party. Unbeknownst to her, a convoy of cars followed behind them carrying friends and family members. Vidal pulled onto I-45, and there, on one of the busiest freeways in the U.S., he stopped! Voila! The perfect spot for the big moment! Vidal climbed out of the car and asked his girlfriend to join him in the middle of the highway. Their friends and loved ones were already standing behind them with cameras at the ready.
Michelle was a little surprised, but she got out and accepted Vidal's proposal with joy. Everything was caught on tape, including the frustrated drivers who had been forced to come to an abrupt halt when Vidal's friends stopped to video the love-struck couple.
So what's next for this couple - happily ever after? Well, not quite. Police viewed footage of the incident after the video went viral, and Vidal has since been charged with "obstructing a roadway." He is now facing up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000 for his not-so-well-thought-out proposal.
Vidal says he picked that spot to propose because it holds special memories for Michelle and him. One of their first dates was a motorcycle ride on I-45. As for his dumb proposal, Vidal said, "I never really thought about causing an accident; I just wanted to do something different." Now that, he most certainly did!
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Amy Giberson and Justin Pounders, both 33, were two young singles looking for love. Both Amy and Justin decided to join the dating website Match.com to see if they could pair up with other singles in their area. Guess who they found? Each other! Justin said that when he saw Amy's picture, there was just something about her that drew him to her and made him want to get to know her.
The two began texting back and forth, and calling each other every night. Finally they set a date to meet. Amy says of that first meeting, "We hugged, and it was like I had known him my whole life." The couple saw each other every day after that, and quickly fell in love.
Almost a year later, the couple was enjoying another date together when Justin casually mentioned that he liked the name "Amy" because he had known an Amy when he was just a little boy in preschool. He had something of a crush on this little girl, but they were both too young for much to come of it. During elementary, middle, and high, they went to different schools, and soon that first innocent love was forgotten. Amy joked that she didn't want to hear about this "other" Amy because it wasn't her. But after talking further, they discovered that they had indeed attended the same preschool as children.
When Amy went home that evening, she asked her mother to see if she could find any pictures of her pre-K years. Her mom did. There was a picture of Amy happily sitting next to a little boy. The little boy was Justin! Apparently, Amy's feeling of "having known him all my life" wasn't too far off!
Though Justin is still waiting for "the right time" to propose, the couple is as good as engaged. They've even picked out a honeymoon spot and decided on a wedding date! I guess that leaves just the question of "will you?"
JACKSONVILLE, Florida - Erika and Stephen Jones were elated. They already had one beautiful little girl, Audrey, and now Erika was pregnant with baby number two! But a visit to the doctor's office put a very sobering twist on their happiness. Their unborn baby (a 2nd daughter) was diagnosed with both Down syndrome and a fatal brain tumor. The doctors gave little hope that the baby would be born alive, and, if she was, they put her life expectancy at less than a year. Erika and Stephen were devastated. But they decided to enjoy their little girl as best as they could for as long as they could.
Abigail Noelle was born on August 6, 2015 - screaming and very much alive. After a few days in the hospital, her parents took her home and began the sad wait for the inevitable. But Abby's first week anniversary came and went. Then came her first month anniversary! And despite the grim predictions, Abby not only lived, but thrived. The doctors were so amazed that they had to check to make sure they had the right baby. Yes, this was the baby, and scans still showed the massive lump in her brain.
Her parents decided to get a second opinion. More tests were done. But this time, Abby's parents had some more hopeful news. The tumor might not be cancerous and might be operable. A small ray of hope was better than no hope at all.
Stephen, Erika, and Abby flew to Boston where the surgery would take place. On October 8th, the operation began. Abby's parents waited, hoping and praying. But the wait time was shorter than expected. And the doctor had some news that made the hopeful couple burst into tears... of joy! Everything had gone better than hoped for, and the tumor had not been cancerous after all. Abby was going to live!
The little family is back home now - so thankful for this amazing and unexpected blessing. Talk about one happy family!
SOUTHPORT, NC - Kayla Harrity, 24, and her boyfriend, 25-year-old Matthew Picca, both from Charlotte, NC, were on a late-summer vacation with Kayla's family in Southport when Matthew decided to try to pull off a surprise proposal. Kayla's family would be accompanying them to Old American Fish for dinner. The famous NC dockside restaurant/bar was the perfect setting for a proposal, Matthew decided. And where better to get down on one knee and pop the question than on the dock itself?
Everything went just fine... until Matthew got down on one knee, pulled out the ring box and opened it. Before he could even say "will you?", the ring popped out of the box, slipped through the cracks of the deck, and disappeared into the ocean! The crowd of onlookers that had gathered to watch the proposal saw the situation and quickly rushed in to help. Some found flashlights; others rushed home to get goggles.
Ten flashlights, five pairs of goggles, and more than 1.5 hours of searching later, the ring was found! Everyone cheered. Then, all of a sudden, everyone started chanting, "Propose again! Do it again!" So, Matthew did. In Kayla's own words: "It was the best feeling in the world. My fiancé, soaking wet and smelling like salty fishing water, proceeded to get down on one knee and put the beautiful ring on my finger!"
After another hour of celebrating, the couple ended the evening with a romantic carriage ride. Unfortunately, Matthew was unable to capture any of this very memorable day using his phone. You see, while searching for the missing ring, Kayla's sister had the bright idea of using his phone's flashlight app to look UNDER the water for it. You can guess how that went!
Matthew and Kayla hope to get married in Southport next year. They are looking forward to a drama-free ceremony.
DELRAN, NJ - Two fire fighters, Tim Young and Paul Hullings, had been up all night battling a warehouse fire and hadn't eaten anything for 12 hours. They decided to stop at a little diner on the way home called 130 Diner (located on Route 130). The waitress overheard the two men talking and understood that they had just come from a long night's work. So when it came time to bring the bill, she brought a note instead. It reads in part: "Your breakfast is on me today — Thank you for all that you do... No matter your role, you are courageous, brave, and strong... Fueled by fire and driven by courage — what an example you are. Get some rest." The two men were very touched. Tim posted a picture of the note on his Facebook page along with a request that all of his friends frequent the diner whenever possible. But the story doesn't end there.
Tim learned that Liz Woodward, the young lady that had picked up the tab, had started a GoFundMe page where she was trying to raise enough funds to buy her dad a wheelchair-accessible van. Tim took to his Facebook page again. "Turns out, the young lady who gave us a free meal is really the one that could use the help," he wrote. The response was bigger than anyone had expected. Over 1,000 people donated money, helping Liz raise $67,000, well surpassing her goal of $17,000. When Liz covered the tab that day, she did not expect anything in return, but her kindness and generosity have been rewarded in ways even she can't believe.
Woodward and her new-found friends have since kept in touch, and Tim and Paul even got to meet Liz's dad - the man they had helped to supply with a new set of wheels.
DALLAS, TX - Mary Smith was only 11 when her father passed away. Her mother had never been in the best of health and was unable to care for Mary on her own. So older cousin Muriel stepped in.
Muriel Clayton, who was 16 years older than Mary, already had a family of her own, but she made as much time for her young cousin as she could. Mary was shuffled between relatives for the next few years, but at the age of 14, Mary finally found a permanent home... with Muriel and her four young daughters. Mary fit right in; it was as if she had always been one of the girls.
Years passed, and Mary grew up and went to college. There she met and married Bob Smith, and the young couple settled into their own home. But Mary and Muriel remained as close as ever. Muriel longed to make official the connection with her dear cousin - to legally adopt Mary as her daughter. But out of respect for Mary's biological mother, Muriel waited.
At the age of 73, Mary's mother passed away. Muriel still wanted to go through with her plans of adopting Mary, but was caught up in the day-to-day business of life, and the years slipped by. It was the passing years that finally prompted her to act. “I got to thinking, you know, I need to make her legally mine before I go,” she said. And on Mother's Day of this year, Muriel asked Mary if she would become her daughter - legally. Mary readily agreed.
On June 9, 2015, Muriel, now 92, and Mary, 76, stood in front of family court Judge Kim Cooks as she officially pronounced them "mother and daughter." "I've worked jigsaw puzzles, and my life has been a beautiful picture," Muriel said. "But one piece was missing, and that was Mary. And now I've got that piece in place."
If you were to visit St. Petersburg, FL, you would likely see a middle-aged black man sitting on the street corner, playing his heart out on the guitar. At first sight, he looks like just another street musician down on his luck. Beside him sits a pail where passersby can drop a few dollars or spare change. After a closer look, you might notice that the man is blind.
Eddie Maltsby Jr. has been blind since age 11. And for 32 years now, he has been playing his guitar for money on the street corners of downtown St. Petersburg. "Music is in me," Eddie says. But that's not all that's in him. This man also has a big heart and a love for the people in his community.
After years of receiving donations from people willing to lend him a helping hand, Eddie wanted to have a way to give back to his community. And so he created the "Florida Blind Boy" radio show. Now Eddie has taken his music from the streets to a tiny radio station study on 34th Street. He uses money from his own pocket, and donates items, such as gift cards for groceries and gas, to callers on his Saturday morning radio show. The show runs from 8:30 to 9 on 1590 AM.
To date, Eddie has given away over $2,000 of his own money. He has sponsors for his show, but the money is starting to run out. He's started a GoFundMe page to get extra donations that he can turn around and give back to the community that has such a special place in his heart. "I'm going to keep giving until I can't give anymore," he said. "I mean, right now I'm giving where I can't give anymore, so why stop?"
George Kirby and Doreen Luckie have been together 27 years, and are the best of friends. They have 7 children, 15 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren between them. But only recently did the couple decide to take the final step in their relationship and get married.
On Valentine's Day, over dinner, George finally popped the question. Doreen accepted his proposal, and the couple set their wedding date for June 13th, George's birthday... his 103rd birthday, that is!
By tying the knot at 103 and 91, respectively, George and Doreen will officially become the "World's Oldest Newlyweds," according to the Guinness World Records. The couple met through an organization that helps seniors connect.
George, a former boxer, physical education instructor, restaurant manager, and gardener, was 76, and recently-divorced when he met Doreen, who had formerly been a typist. Doreen had lost her husband three years earlier. There was an immediate connection between George and Doreen, and they began seeing each other regularly, eventually moving in together. Now, after a little pressure from their children, the two have finally decided to make it official. “I suppose it’s about time, really," George said. "I definitely don’t feel my age. Doreen keeps me young."
Young he might feel, but when it came to the proposal, George decided to opt out of the traditional routine. “I didn’t get down on one knee, because I didn't think I would've been able to get back up,” George laughed.
The couple will be married at the hotel, owned by George's son, Neil, where they now live. Neil, 63, who will be best man, noted that George and Doreen are “very much in love with each other." This is one couple that knows how to enjoy life, regardless of advanced age!