Many of us get one great love story, but how many of us get two? Janice Rucks has been lucky and, “lived two Hallmark movies,” according to Rachel, her daughter. Rachel Rucks Wingfield thought she knew everything there was to know about her mom, but when Rachel’s dad died 6 years ago, devastating the family, she learned more about the mother she adores.
Her first marriage was wonderful
Janice was married to Rachel’s dad, Edward for 44 wonderful years and theirs was a classic love story. When the young couple met, she was engaged to someone else and he was recently divorced. Janice’s family did not approve of Edward because he was seventeen years older than her, had already been married and divorced, and was not Catholic.
But it was love at first sight and Janice and Edward’s love would not be denied. They eloped and their marriage thrived for 44 years until Edward’s death. Rachel was the product of that love, an only child, who says her mother is her “best friend and a second mother to her own two sons.”
An old flame appeared after Janice was widowed
One morning Janice texted Rachel at 7am, far earlier than her usual waking time and urged Rachel to call her back “ASAP.” Thinking it must be an emergency Rachel called her mom immediately. Janice effused with excitement about being contacted by a guy she had dated before her marriage. “What?” thought Rachel — a guy you dated before dad, a guy who drove a 64 Corvette? What in the world was her mother talking about? That her mother had had a relationship prior to getting married was news to Rachel who says, “I thought I knew everything there was to know about my mom…”
Then Janice told her only daughter that several summers before she married Rachel’s father, Janice had gone to spend the summer with a girlfriend’s older sister in Denver. That summer Janice met Jerry and a romance ensued. When the summer ended, Janice returned to Memphis to finish high school. Jerry had family in Little Rock, Arkansas and whenever he visited them he would stop by to see Janice and they would go out.
Once while travelling to see his family, Jerry called Janice only to be told by her mother that Janice had eloped. Jerry was upset by the news, but what could he do — Janice was married now. Throughout the years, Jerry tried to find Janice. He looked her name up in phone books, but he didn’t know her married name. He even ended up sending love notes to the wrong people.
Jerry never married and lived all over the world. At 80, he decided to move to Little Rock where he still had family and renew his efforts to find Janice. He was not on social media, but he got on the Internet and paid for a service to find her. And, find her they did. Jerry contacted Janice by phone and email. She returned his messages and they talked for hours every day, for weeks on end.
Jerry told Janice she was the one who got away
Jerry told Janice that she was the “one who got away” and he had always regretted letting her go. He told her that when he found out she’d gotten married, he was gutted. Janice and Jerry continued to speak on the phone until they decided that it was time to meet in person.
Janice informed her family that Jerry was coming to town to “stay in her guest room for two weeks while they got to know each other a little better.” The visit went so well that Jerry extended his stay for an additional two weeks. Then talk turned to marriage. Janice never thought she would remarry because she had such a loving marriage the first time around. But, Edward had always told her that when he was gone, he hoped she would find someone new
Jerry is currently in the process of packing up and moving to Memphis where Janice lives and the happy couple has begun house hunting. The couple will figure out the whole wedding/ marriage thing once Jerry is living in Memphis.
For her part, Rachel is thrilled for her mom and has given the union her blessing. Her two sons, who call Janice “Mimi” have mixed feelings. The 19-year-old thinks it’s funny and is delighted that his grandmother sounds so happy and energetic. The 15-year-old thinks that it’s some “creepy geriatric fling” but Rachel knows that both her sons will be thrilled when they realize that the grandmother they adore is so happy.
Rachel is delighted to see her mom with a renewed “pep in her step.” Leary at the onset she had hired a private investigator who found that, “this guy is squeaky clean” and he would let his own mom date the guy.
As the famous song goes, “Love is lovelier, the second time around…”
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