Hope hung suspended in silvery letters from ribbon in Rachel Devlin’s hands. A friend gave her the ornament in 2005. The friend told her, “Never give up hope,” Rachel, 53, recalled.
Devlin had fled an abusive marriage years earlier. The experience left her doubtful she would ever find true love. Instead, she focused her time and energy on raising her daughter. “But hope springs eternal,” she said, smiling softly.
With the encouragement of friends she explored online dating and in December 2012, she met Tim Devlin.
It turns out there were so many places they could have found each other over the years.
They could have met at Manito Presbyterian Church, where they both attended kindergarten. They might have run into each other in the hallways of Ferris High School where they graduated. Or they could have crossed paths on the campus of Eastern Washington University where they both got degrees. But they didn’t.
Instead, it took the online dating site Christian Mingle to introduce them.
Tim, 55, had moved to the Seattle area after graduating from college. He and his wife, Jackie, had three children and were happily married for 30 years before she died of cancer in February 2012.
As he began to emerge from his cocoon of grief, Tim recalled, “My son said, ‘If you want to start dating I understand.’ ”
Unsure of where to begin, Tim perused the profiles on Christian Mingle and Rachel’s caught his eye. “She jumped off the page to me,” he said. “She was beautiful – the most beautiful woman I’d seen.”
Then he read her profile. “I thought she sounded wonderful!” So he sent her an email.
Rachel describes herself as picky. She knew exactly what she wanted and wasn’t about to settle for anything less. She replied to his email and a flurry of exchanges followed. That’s when they discovered they’d attended the same kindergarten, high school and college.
Soon, it was time for their first phone conversation, an event complicated by the fact that Rachel was born with severely impaired hearing. Five years ago she received a cochlear implant, but she was still self-conscious about her speaking voice.
She needn’t have worried. “The fact that she was deaf didn’t dissuade me at all,” Tim said. “I was incredibly impressed at what she’d been able to accomplish – college, a career and raising an incredible daughter. She’s phenomenal!”
Rachel was thrilled by the sound of his voice. “I immediately loved his voice,” she said. Putting her hand over her heart she continued, “The timbre, the tone, the pace …”
After a month of emails and phone calls they decided to meet in person. Tim’s mother lives in Spokane, so in January 2013 he flew into town.
“I brought her flowers, and we hugged,” Tim said. “There was an incredible connection.”
They spent the day getting to know each other better – coffee at the Davenport Hotel, lunch at Huckleberry’s, dinner at Thai Bamboo, and then he flew home to Renton.
Less than a month later he was back. As their relationship deepened they found they shared a deep faith in God and devotion to their families. Eventually, Rachel met his children, and Tim met her daughter.
Rachel wasn’t at all threatened by the fact that Tim had enjoyed a long and happy marriage. “I wish I could have known Jackie,” she said.
When Memorial Day weekend arrived Tim had marriage on his mind. He flew to Spokane with a ring in his pocket. As they walked through the downtown skywalks, they paused to look at the street below. That’s when Tim seized the moment and proposed. “That was my chance,” he said. “It was now or never.”
Rachel smiled. “I can just see your face,” she said. Then she added, “If he hadn’t proposed that weekend I was going to ask him to marry me!”
They shared the news with their families. Rachel’s daughter, a freshman at Whitworth University, was especially pleased. She texted Tim, “I’m so excited. I was worried my mom would be all alone when I went off to college.”
But before the wedding, there was the question of where to live. Tim had a home and a thriving career as a retirement income specialist at Wells Fargo in Renton and Rachel owned a South Hill home and had worked for Spokane Public Schools for many years.
In the end, Tim decided you can go home again and his company agreed that he could move his business to Spokane.
The couple married on Sept. 21 and settled into Rachel’s home across the street from the parochial school Tim attended for first through eighth grade.
The newlywed glow is still apparent as the couple talked about finding love later in life. Rachel held the “Hope” ornament her friend had given her years earlier and said she was glad she hadn’t given up on finding the right person.
“I feel like he’s my best friend,” she said.
For his part, her husband sees God’s hand in their relationship. “I prayed. I asked God if there was somebody out there that I’m supposed to be with, would He help me find that person,” Tim said. Then he took Rachel’s hand. “My prayer was answered. It was like we were meant to be together.”