- Associated Press - Saturday, May 21, 2016

KINGSPORT, Tenn. (AP) - On a cool, crisp afternoon early last month, Bobby Boling and Connie Gilley were married on the front steps of Indian Springs Elementary School.

Witnessed by a small gathering of friends and family members, the ceremony was simple. But the Bolings’ love story was a long time in the making. Forty-eight years, to be precise.

Bobby and Connie were well-acquainted growing up. They first met while in the first grade at Indian Springs Elementary School, and their families’ adjoining farms ensured that the two were never too far apart. They became sweethearts in the seventh grade, when the introverted Bobby worked up enough courage to give Connie a box of candy on Valentine’s Day.

“Back then, I was about a head taller than Bobby and he was probably 100 pounds soaking wet,” Connie laughed.

Connie recounted that it would be a long time before she would learn Bobby’s habit of sneaking onto the back of her family’s property and watching her through the scope of his rifle while he worked up the nerve to approach her.

“Even then, our personalities were so much different,” Connie said. “I’m an extrovert and he’s always been very shy; so shy that he didn’t want any confrontation whatsoever. Not me. Once, one of our friends in seventh grade, Linda, decided that she wanted to be Bobby’s sweetheart and she started going after him. Well, I just punched her lights out. I said, ‘No, you stay away from him. He’s mine.’”

After parting ways in high school, the two married others and raised children, not realizing that it would be decades later before they would reconnect. Although they kept in occasional contact on Facebook, their paths did not truly cross again until last year, when a simple phone call paved the way for a happily ever after.

After Bobby underwent three serious brain surgeries, the effects of which left him with partially paralyzed vocal chords, he became reclusive.

“I went to church, to the doctor and to the grocery; that was about it,” Bobby said.

Connie, meanwhile, had tried online dating with no success.

“I felt like I needed to be with someone and have a companion,” Connie said. “But I wanted a certain type of person. I turned it over to God. I said, ‘You know my heart, my desires, my needs and my wants. You know the type of person I want to be with. If you would, just put him before me; or else just take this desire away and let me be satisfied with living alone.”

Upon hearing of Bobby’s recent surgeries, Connie became concerned that she hadn’t heard from him in a while, so she called him and invited him to her house for dinner.

While the date was clearly a success, it wasn’t without its embarrassments.

“Bobby was wanting everything to be perfect,” Connie said. “He went out and bought new pants, a new shirt… he wanted everything to be just right. So he put on this new outfit and his most comfortable pair of shoes and he came down to dinner.”

During the date, Bobby’s most comfortable pair of shoes proved to be anything but. Upon standing up from the couch at one point, his favorite pair of shoes fell apart.

“The sole of the shoe disintegrated all over the carpet,” chuckled Connie. “If he could’ve crawled under that couch right then, he would have.”

“I had to go home with no shoes on,” added Bobby.

Notwithstanding, the two felt the same fireworks they had felt so long ago.

“It was like a magnet,” Connie said. “Everything fell right into place from that day on. It was hardly any time before we decided to spend the rest of our lives together. When you know in your heart that something is heavenly written, that it’s meant to be, it’s the sweetest, most peaceful feeling that you’ll ever experience. Because there’s no question. I had no doubt.”

Months later, on the front steps of the school where they first met, the two were wed. Having recently celebrated their one-month anniversary, the two are still beaming like two lovebirds.

“It seems like we’ve been married for years because we’re so comfortable with each other,” Connie said. “I wish everyone could be this happy. I just thank God every day. There’s no doubt in my mind that this was meant to be, because it’s too comfortable and too easy and too much fun.”

___

Information from: Kingsport Times-News, https://www.timesnews.net

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