POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Aug 18, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 3:21 a.m. HST, Aug 18, 2013
SUMTER, S.C. » This love story begins with chemotherapy, rather than with the usual moonlight and roses.
And, it recently culminated when Helen Mitchell and Herbert Hightower were married last month at Tuomey Chapel.
"God had a hand in it," Mitchell said. "He showed me his spirit. When God shows you something, you can believe it."
The two met while their spouses were in treatment for cancer at Tuomey Regional Medical Center. Mitchell's husband even became golf buddies with Hightower. He died Dec. 20, 2006, and Hightower's wife died June 11, 2011.
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It was a while before they met again at the Shaw Air Force Base Exchange.
"She is attractive," Hightower said. "We exchanged pleasantries. I talked about going to see my daughter in Charlotte … and she said she wanted to see her daughter in Fort Mill."
He provided the ride, and come January 2012 he was asking Mitchell to karaoke.
Hightower proposed on one knee in her kitchen at a Thanksgiving party.
"It was a joyful moment," Mitchell said. "He's a spontaneous man."
Between the two of them they had 90 years of marriage to their credit, said Stewart Schnur of Plaza Church of Christ, who provided their premarital counseling and served as wedding officiant.
"For couples in their 70s, it's about communicating with their children and reassuring them that you are not taking the place of their mother or father," he said. "I also — and this is not something I normally do during pre-marriage counseling — I talk to them about making sure their wills are in order and talking to their children to help relieve any concerns they may have about material being passed on."
Hightower is 72 and Mitchell is 68.
"When you're a senior citizen it's quite different," Mitchell said. "You're established. You know what love is. You trust it and look forward to it the second time around."
Schnur performed the ceremony from his wheelchair, as he'd recently had his left knee replaced.
"The reason for the date is it's Herbert Hightower's father's 100th birthday," Schnur said. "Otherwise, we'd wait a couple of weeks, so I could be standing up."
"I'm happy that he's happy," said Hightower's daughter Danielle. "It's a good day for him."
Mitchell's son shared similar thoughts.
"I am very happy for my mother," Reginald Mitchell said.
When asked who would give the bride away, he and his sister, Dione Mitchell Perry, said "we do." Danielle Hightower walked her father in and "gave him away."
The second-time newlyweds had words of wisdom to share.
"Just be good to her," Hightower said.
"Enjoy growing old together," Mitchell said.
--Jade Anderson / Associated Press