Doug worked nightshift and Jennifer day– they were like two ships passing in the early morning dawn. It was March 2001 and Jennifer, and her three sons, aged 5-11, were busy with life.
Doug, who had never been married, would listen to her talk about all the baseball games she was attending and was silently hoping for an invitation. The invite never came so after six months Doug took the bull by the horn and asked her over to his place for dinner.
Jennifer recalls how impressed she was with his cooking skills as they dined on Barbequed steak, shrimp and crab. She even met his bird, Jasper. Life was busy and now it included a romance.
Doug was Jennifer’s relief and on occasions he would leave flowers and sticky notes with smiley faces on the med-cart for her to find the next day. Doug knew that Jennifer was the one for him and he wanted to do the whole proposal thing right.
Once he consulted with her father, selected and purchased the ring , he then invited Jennifer to join him at Des Moines Creek Park, overlooking the water. The community of Des Moines has played an important role !
When they arrived, they sat on a bench and Doug knelt down on one knee and asked for her hand. In 2004, Wesley Homes’ Chaplain, Mike Byrd, officiated their wedding beneath a willow tree at their home.
On a trip to Lake Newasal Jennifer’s ring fell off while rowing, however, she did not notice it until she was back at their fifth wheel. One week later she rented a metal detector and raced back to the lake. Unfortunately, she received her first and only speeding ticket. Fortunately, however, the stars aligned and after a three hour search she found her ring along the shoreline!
When I asked the two of them what creates a strong bond in a marriage they both agreed that communication and a willingness to be grateful even through the bad times are high on their list. On December 6th 2008 this sage advice would be put to the test when their son Michael Isaac Gunn died.
The community of Wesley Homes would rally around them and with support from the Foundation’s Employee Emergency Assistance Fund some of the burial costs were offset. As a parent we just don’t think about setting money aside for an expense such as this one. No parent is prepared to outlive their child.
On the fifth anniversary of Michael’s death the staff of Wesley Homes Assisted Living led Jennifer to the nurse’s station and presented her with flowers and a card. They knew what was on her mind that day and they did not forget her. Jennifer rarely cries, but the compassion her team showered her with, moved her to tears. The Terrace second floor is a special place—just ask Jennifer. Today Doug and Jennifer talk about how so many things have contributed to their happiness and gratitude and it is clear as I visit with them that they are good friends – and yes, she is wearing her ring!