Stitch members Cheri from Texas and Michael (Mike) from Oklahoma had no intention of dating or finding love when they joined Stitch. Life, however, had other plans. Their friendship turned into romance, and they now couldn’t be happier. Enjoy their story below, written from each of their perspectives.
Let me start with my back story. I have always been adventurous, and I have been self-sufficient for decades as a single parent after two divorces. And in spite of that, I have never felt lonely nor angry. I have felt my life was full, and I could finally enjoy making choices after retirement.
I found out about Stitch through SilverSneakers and was fortunate to meet Andrew (Stitch’s Founder) when he came to Houston to promote Stitch right before the pandemic in January 2020. Soon after, COVID19 caused life to limit travel and socializing, so online opportunities on Stitch allowed me to connect with new people from around the world.
In the two years since joining Stitch, I have enjoyed catching up with friends around the world at different events: During my weekly TGIF virtual activity, playing Farkle with a group from Texas, Scattergories with Wendy, Qwixx with Sylvia, and through attending various art events. Also through leading weekly Spanish lessons, and monthly cultural activities.
The most significant reward from Stitch was meeting Mike, who has changed my life. He is the love of my life. I didn’t know life could be as wonderful as it has been since we found each other.
I have made so many wonderful connections since joining Stitch! The discussion forums and virtual get-togethers have now become part of my daily routine. I have participated in numerous discussion forums and hosted events, and often send welcome messages to people I get to know on the forums. I invite them to activities and other forums that I think they would enjoy, especially if we have something in common. That’s how Mike and I initially connected.
I have discovered amazing insights through the discussion forums, had numerous conversations through private messages, and connected with people from the Houston area for chats, lunches, and plays. But the most significant reward from Stitch was meeting Mike, who has changed my life. He is the love of my life. I didn’t know life could be as wonderful as it has been since we found each other.
About a year and a half ago, another Stitcher mentioned the idea of being “open to the possibilities,” and I liked that philosophy — nevertheless, I hadn’t really been thinking about finding someone at this stage of my life. I wasn’t looking for love or even a romantic relationship.
What I have found after meeting Mike is that we have to be open to the blessings that come our way, and be willing to take chances. In his section, Mike shares how I took the chance and drove to Oklahoma, how we connected, and the beginning of “us.”
Our connection was immediate and intense. We knew we were meant to be together. Now, nine months later, we cannot imagine life without each other. Despite our obvious flaws, we adore each other and love each other sincerely and passionately. Our happiness is profound, and our intense love is exciting and peaceful at the same time.
Despite our obvious flaws, we adore each other and love each other sincerely and passionately.
I think our past experiences help us to recognize the importance of honest communication, commitment, companionship, filtered through trust, respect, and affection for ourselves and each other. We seek to learn and grow, serve others, and play together.
In November, Mike gave me a commitment ring that says, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine” from the Songs of Solomon. I read it several times a day.
Mike and I pray together daily. We are always sensitive to each other’s feelings and communicate our thoughts and preferences. One of the things that I like the most about our relationship is that we don’t have to hide our flaws, desires, or feelings. We put each other first, yet with confidence that we can express our own needs.
We will continue to blend our lives, households, and experiences in the coming months. We’re planning a road trip together, visiting family and friends in several states, and in May 2022, we will celebrate our first year as “us.”
Michael (Mike), Oklahoma
My wife of 28 years passed away after a five-year battle with breast cancer. I utilized the counseling services offered by Hospice and even joined a grief-sharing support group offered by a local church, but I was having a hard time getting out of my shell.
Then came the pandemic and an ice storm that paralyzed my city, and cabin fever was starting to set in. By this point I was ready to meet new people, but how?
Six months later, I heard about Stitch. I started with the free trial, which allowed me to participate in discussions with other widowers from all around the world.
Soon after, a lady in a nearby state contacted me and asked about my dog from my Stitch profile photos. I upgraded to a paid membership, started corresponding with her, and received some important feedback about my self-identity and self-worth. She and another Stitch member who was her friend became my friends. Cool!
About this time, I came in contact with Cheri when she replied to a comment I made on one of the discussion forums. She invited me to post on her Jokes, funny anecdotes, stories, and good news discussion, and since I was a retired teacher, she also invited me to join her weekly TGIF virtual event.
After failing to attend Cheri’s event because of Zoom troubles, she offered to set up a mock Zoom where I could get the bugs worked out. That impressed me, to have a group leader offer the time to help me. That led to more direct messaging.
Our discussions developed into friendship. We are both retired teachers, so we had a lot in common, but we also had vast differences in where we had taught and our teaching experiences.
I taught for 30 years in a rural Oklahoma school district. By the time I retired, I had a student tell me I was her grandmother’s favorite teacher in school! In contrast, Cheri and her world-class teaching travel and living experiences fascinated me.
I loved teaching art. I am an art educator, and art history and critique are important to me, and here she was opening up areas in art and culture that I was completely unaware of. How she tied art into her AP Spanish classes was bold and refreshing and way beyond anything I had done with my students. But then, neither did she take students out and cut down trees to practice wood sculpture. Her students made paper mache Aztec calendars and dioramas of the pyramids. Mine did paper mache turkey decoys; talk about different worlds.
Between text messages, instant messaging, and telephone calls, we spent 4-6 hours a day communicating, and the friendship grew deeper. But there was a problem – the 6+ hour drive time between my hometown in Oklahoma and her hometown in Houston, Texas.
Cheri mentioned she loves going on road trips, so I invited her to my home, promising I had plenty of rooms and that my Mom had raised me to be a gentleman.
The big day was May 27th, 2021. I stood out on the paved road so she did not miss the lane coming up to the house, and as she pulled up, she took my breath away. I know it sounds corny, but as she got out of her car, my stomach did a flip. What started as a two-day visit somehow stretched into five days. Great!
I finally learned how to video call on my phone. Now, our four to six-hour discussions stretched closer to ten hours a day. And we started sending each other handwritten letters and cards. The ones she sent me? I have them hidden somewhere special so nothing happens to them.
Between text messages, instant messaging, and telephone calls, we spent 4-6 hours a day communicating, and the friendship grew deeper.
It still amazes me how much we have in common and what we don’t! My early childhood experiences on the farm, my favorite classes in high school, my military experiences, and my many jobs are vastly different from her teaching in Iowa, Mexico, Spain, and Hawaii, and her catching baby crocodiles on the Amazon!
Do we agree on everything? No way! Do we avoid those topics? No Way! She is as passionate as I am about her beliefs — religious, political, financial – and we discuss them all! But when it starts heating up, we STOP. I know there are things I am never going to change her mind on, and there are things she won’t change mine on.
We revel in the fact we are adults who can disagree on things and still care deeply about each other. Where does this go? Only time will tell, but she is the other beat of my heart!