A Modern Love Story: Part One

A Modern Love Story: Part One

A real life romance that rivals any Nicholas Sparks' paperback.

For years he couldn’t find her because he’d been searching for Kathy with a “K” instead of with a “C.” Then, because of a spur of the moment decision to include the names of her and her siblings in a memorial for the twentieth anniversary of her brother’s death, when Dave searched for her, she appeared.

This is where their story began in the present day. Or, rather, where it picked up.

The romance between Cathy Gore and Dave Jones dates back to the winter of 1990.

Cathy was riding to Hummel Park, a scenic area at the northern outskirts of Omaha, with her older brother. They were going to meet some friends there. However, after the snow-covered trees, Dave was the first thing in sight; and he was a sight to behold. The first impression that she got of Dave was of him digging his cowboy boots into the densely packed snow and clinging on to the bumper of a beat-up Ford. Then, the car was off. Bumper skiing, it was called.

‘Wow. That guy’s really living his life,” Cathy thought to herself.

A mutual friend of her brother, Dave and Cathy began to date. She was 22; him, 25. The draw for her was his charismatic personality; for him, it was her kind and loving personality. For nine months, they were together. They would often double date with Cathy’s older brother and his girlfriend, going on drives and swimming or fishing at the sand flats. They would go on drives with the windows down, the wind blowing through their hair, young and full of dreams for the future.

One sultry day in August, Cathy and her brother drove to pick up her boyfriend. They were going to double date and enjoy nature like they always had. When they arrived, Dave was not home. A yellow note had been affixed to the front door with tape.

“It said he was going with a girl named Julie. It just broke my heart, broke my heart,” she said.

For years, they had not been in contact. Each went their separate ways, marrying, raising kids, getting divorced. Each moved on, but did not forget the other.

Until, over 25 years later, Dave found Cathy. He had been searching for her for years, wanting to get in contact with her, to apologize. He could never find her on Google. He tried calling her house multiple times, but no message ever reached Cathy. In June of 2016, he messaged her on Facebook.

“I don’t know if you remember me or not...” Dave’s message began.

“When Dave and I broke up, I was in a total quandary, an absolute tailspin,” said Cathy. “Dave Jones is the reason I questioned my path in life. So, when he messaged me on Facebook, I was absolutely dumbstruck.”

Dave’s message continued: “But, about a year ago, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. Even if I never hear from you again, I’ve always hoped the best for you and I hope your life has turned out well.”

Cathy was in shock. A man from her past who was troubled deeply and struggling with a life-threatening illness had reached out to her after all this time. How could she refuse?

“Of course I remember you,” replied Cathy. “You weren’t just my brother’s friend, you broke my heart some 25 years ago. But, of course, feel free to reach out anytime.”

They exchanged contact information. Dave called Cathy that night.

“Oh, Cathy Gore,” Dave began. “I feel like every decision up to this point in my life has been a mistake.”

Dave did not have the easiest of upbringings. One day, at the age of six, while he was playing with some neighbor kids, they began to pester and tease him. They liked the girl better they said.

Kids can be so cruel.

That was how it was revealed to Dave that he was adopted. His parents had not intended on ever telling him, they wanted it to be their own little secret. When Dave confronted his parents about it, his mother told him to sit down, that she was only going to tell him this once. They had had a daughter about his age who died tragically in a sledding accident. Shortly thereafter, they adopted Dave. That secret and its realization broke Dave. Not just kids can be cruel.

“It was from that point on that Dave felt like a replacement for the child who had died,” said Cathy. “From that point on, there grew this deep-seeded desire to be loved unconditionally.”

Being viewed as a replacement child, Dave was treated as such. For years, Dave’s adoptive brother fostered a strong sense of animosity towards him. Familial niceties were rarely extended to him.

"It just broke my heart, just broke my heart."

At 18, he joined the army and left home for good. There, he felt a sense of family that his adoptive one was unable to provide.

Throughout his whole life, he searched for a sense of acceptance and unconditional love. And, for brief moments in time, he found it. For several years, he was happily married, working in the military, and helping to raise his son. He was happy.

Then, out of the blue, he arrived home from work to an empty apartment. Few possessions were left, fewer memories, and even less love. His wife had left him and taken their son. He wouldn’t see his son again for another seven years. Though only married once, the crux of the story was be repeated twice more, for a total of three abandoning lovers, three children snatched away from him, and three separate heart breaks.

The strained relationship between Dave and his family was a normalcy throughout his adult life. He rarely saw his children, and, when he did, it was evident that each of their respective mothers had planted seeds that poisoned their image of him. His adoptive family was not any better.

Several years before meeting Cathy, Dave’s father passed away. He had been a Mormon preacher, beloved by his community. Although Dave was raised to be a devout Mormon, he never felt any connection to the Mormon church. When Dave entered the church for his funeral, a pin drop could be heard. It was clear that he was unwelcome.

At the back of the church, he sat in the nearest pew. Though the building was packed, he sat entirely alone. He faced forward, everyone's backs to him. That would be the last time he would see his adoptive family.

That loneliness stuck with him until June of 2016, when he reconnected with Cathy. They began to chat almost daily, via text messages and phone calls.

“Stage 4 cancer and the guy was still working a full-time, physically demanding job,” said Cathy. “When he was originally diagnosed, he had a tumor the size of a fist in his lung. But he wasn’t giving up, not by a long shot.”

In 2004, Dave moved to a suburb of Minneapolis, Brooklyn Park, to start anew. His adoptive family had washed their hands of him and the majority of people who entered his life, including his roommates, were toxic to him.

That is until one day some 12 years later, when Cathy took it on herself to make the drive from her home in Missouri Valley, Iowa, a town not too far from Omaha, to visit Dave.

When she arrived on his doorstep, once again, Dave was a sight to behold. His carefree youthfulness had been replaced by a body rammed by a relentless disease. Dave had always been a thin guy, but now was especially so. His skin had an unhealthy pallor, his eyes sunken and melancholy.

Their first date (this time around) was a rather unconventional one. They drove to the St. Paul Cathedral, an iconic landmark that marks the skyline of St. Paul.

The church doors, normally closed but unlocked, were wide open today. Cathy and Dave sauntered in and lit a prayer candle for Danny, Cathy’s brother, who had passed away some twenty years ago. They credited him for their original summer romance, and, because his published memorial had reintroduced them, they credited him with their newfound relationship as well. Several candles were being lit by alter boys; a mass would shortly begin. Cathy, a devout Catholic, suggested they stay. Dave was rather leery. He was usually a stranger to church, save for the Mormon churches of his past. Cathy said there was no pressure, that the choice was all his. But she thought he might find it helpful. Reluctantly, Dave agreed. This time, when Dave sat down in the nearest pew, he had someone there beside him.

"From that point on, there grew this deep-seeded desire to be loved unconditionally."

During mass, verses were read, hymns sung, but when it came to the giving of communion, Dave was unsure. Cathy quelled his anxieties, saying, once again, there was no pressure, that Dave did not have to receive communion, but could simply receive a blessing from the priest. Reserved but ambitious, Dave joined Cathy. When he reached the priest, the priest placed his hands on Dave to bless him; however, he lingered there for longer than the rest. The priest prayed and prayed and prayed for Dave, so much so that those behind him were becoming aggravated at the congestion of the prayer line. Cathy had already taken her seat when she noticed that Dave was still up front. Finally, the priest finished up and Dave sat back down to join her. She looked up at him to find he had tears in his eyes. Somberly, he took her hand and squeezed it lightly.

“Thank you,” he said tearfully.

“The experience was just so cathartic for him. I think it was the first time in his life that he started any sort of healing process,” said Cathy. “But I told him that if he were really moved by that and if he were open to the idea that he needed to come down to Missouri Valley sometime to meet Father Raphael.”

Cathy had a special connection with her local parishioner, and thought that Dave could benefit from a heartfelt connection with a man of God. A month later, Dave stayed with Cathy and her family for nine days. Dave spent much of his time with Father Raphael, simply talking. It was a form of catharsis, of therapy, of moving towards healing.

Halfway through his miniature vacation, Dave was sitting on the recliner across from Cathy in her cozy living room.

“Cathy Gore,” he began (he always referred to Cathy by her full name), “I’ve thought about this, I really have, and I want to become Catholic. I’ve gotten more out of going to church with you three times than I have in a lifetime spent at Mormon churches.”

So, on September 10, 2016, his 51st birthday, Dave Jones was baptized and confirmed as a Catholic. Throughout the whole process, tears clouded Dave’s eyes. After his confirmation, Dave hugged Father Raphael closely and tightly. Afterwards, Dave walked back to his car with Cathy’s arm in his.

“This is where I belong,” he said. “This is what family feels like.”

And, with that, it was time for the cancer treatment to begin.

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You Will Always Need Your Grandma

They Are Some Of The Greatest Human Beings You Will Ever Know

Always is no exaggeration, you'll always need your grandma.

"A grandmother is a remarkable woman. She's a wonderful combination of warmth and kindness, laughter and love. She overlooks our faults, encourages our dreams, and praises our every success."- Author Unknown

They Are Your Biggest Fans:

Maybe even beating out your parents for that title...grandmas are truly your number one fans. From tennis matches, to softball and volleyball games, to the countless dance recitals and competitions, it always made my heart smile to look out from the stage or the court and see my grandma sitting there. She didn't have to be there sitting on uncomfortable bleachers, she wanted to be, and it always meant the world to me; even if I didn't express it at the time.

They Are The Greatest Porch Swing Companions:

One of my favorite and greatest memories of growing up is sitting on the front porch swing with my grandma. From the time when my feet didn't quite touch the ground sitting in the swing and hers did, to my feet touching the ground and her legs getting just a little bit shorter. All of the years in between provided some of the best advice, and were some of the many moments I wish that I could have recorded. There were less hours on the swing as I got older and busier, but I always know exactly where to go if I ever need to. Moving away for college, I realize just how much I miss being eight or nine sitting on the front porch swinging and talking for hours.

The Wisdom:

Only one of the many many things they have to offer you. They are full of so many stories, life lessons, and possible answers to your problems. You learn to appreciate the wisdom more and more as you get older. You realize that just as you are getting older, they are too. I recently bought a journal called My Grandma In Her Own Words. Inside the pages are questions to ask your grandma such as, "What is your earliest childhood memory?" I can't wait to spend the whole summer filling it.

Are They Not The Cutest:

I say this at least twice a week...she is the cutest human being alive. Their style, to the fabulous music they listen to, to everything in between. My grandma walked at least 16 miles in Washington D.C. in loafers and the cutest vest/scarf combo I've ever seen... that woman, let me tell ya. On a serious note, whenever I'm told I look a little bit like my grandma, I LOVE it. I take pride in the fact that someone sees a little bit of her in me, because she is gorgeous.

You Have No Idea How To Live Without Them:

Quite simply, they are one of the most influential women in your life. From being little, to being a newly minted adult, I still call my grandma almost everyday; sometimes just to hear her voice. They are some of the greatest human beings you will ever know. They make you a better person, all while showing you an unconditional love that only they can.

All the love in the world for you, sweet woman.

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An Open Letter To My "Team"

A week I'll never forget.

Last week, I had the amazing opportunity of going on a Service and Justice Experience spring break trip to Marion County, South Carolina. Since returning, I've been trying to pinpoint what I've learned, trying to find a particular moment or teaching that resonated with me, but I've found that I can't. There are no words to describe all that happened last week, so instead I've chosen to write this article as an ode to all that I encountered and felt in my seven days in Marion County.

It's been less than a week since we journeyed back to campus and I'm missing Marion already.

Whenever I see one of the people I traveled with around campus, I can't help but light up and smile, and I think it's because something magical happened last week. It had to be the combination of the beautiful community we were exposed to in Marion, the service with Habitat for Humanity, we were able to do, and of course, the people we served alongside with.

When people ask me how my trip was, the first word that comes to mind is "fun", but I don't think that word really does the trip, or everyone there, any justice.

Yes, the trip was fun, but it was also thought provoking, full of fits of laughter and moments of determination and hard work, and so much more.

Team, thank you to every single one of you for making the trip what it was. In one of the notecards that someone wrote for me, they commented on how the trip would not have been the same without me being there. As cliché as it sounds, I believe this to be true- we all come from different backgrounds with our own idiosyncrasies and character traits.

I truly feel that if even one person had been missing, the group dynamic, and thus experience as a whole, would have shifted.

I think what really stood out to me was the amount of love that surrounded all of us in everything we did. When Morgan asked us during reflection one night, Where did you see love today? I found myself with countless examples, from the patience of master nailers with us newbies, to the countless times a friend braided my hair for me, to a simple check in of "how are you doing" at any given moment.

Love and the sense of community were at the forefront of everything we did last week, especially when working on the house or connecting with the people in Marion.

Thank you all for helping solidify my belief that every action in life can be traced back to love.

I felt the love everywhere we went and through everything we did. However, what I found even more beautiful was how, when taking a step back, I was able to observe the love around me. As I spoke about during reflection one night, there was a moment where I was lying on the grass, separate from everyone else, watching you all play Frisbee.

While this situation may sounds trivial and mundane, I think the impact this moment had on me speaks to the gratitude this trip formed in me for the little moments.

It was the way that you all were interacting with each other. Closing my eyes, I heard nothing but laughter and cheering and words of encouragement. All you were doing was throwing around a Frisbee, yet I could find so much of God's love in that moment.

You all have a special place in my heart, and I only hope we continue to grow as a team.

Here's to morning devotionals, Max's daily lessons and coordinated Coke commercials. Here's to 6:15 wake up songs (Final Countdown anyone?), 12 am What Do You Meme? games (because pizza, of course) and the sardine round that took half a century. Here's to surprise birthday cake(s), handprints on walls, walls being painted and walls being raised. Most of all, here's to ridiculous stories, laughter, moments of reflection, vulnerability, and tears, and everything in between.

Thank you all for bringing your whole self to this trip, for sharing, and as a result, for teaching me a great deal about what it means to live in community and to build not only a home, but a second family.

Here's to you, here's to us, team.

Good deal,


Cover Image Credit: Samantha DeCarlo

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