“I learned how to cut a pattern and how to pin the pattern onto the material,” Anderson admitted. “I did not know the material had a grain, like wood does. She taught me how to cut the material, but I do not sew.”
“He does know the parts of the dress,” his fiancé, Haynes said. “I will ask for the bodice and he will pass it right over.”
The dining area in Haynes’ house is filled to the brim with sewing equipment and stuffing. From the ceiling hang six red, shiny dresses, the shortest being about a foot-and-a-half long and intended for a granddaughter.
“I have three grown daughters and Kenneth has a grown son,” Haynes said. “Between the two of us, we have six grandkids, soon to be seven. The two families get along great — everyone approves of everybody!”
The engaged couple share a couch in the dining room area as they talk. Sometimes they hold hands, other times they stare at each other as if they cannot believe their luck.
“We are just two ordinary people that feel extraordinarily blessed, being in our 50s and finding good people,” said Haynes.
The two originally met while walking along the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway last November.
“I was walking on the Greenway one day, praying and enjoying some alone time when I saw a man walking from the other direction,” Haynes recalled. “He was moving his lips and I thought to myself, ‘This man is either crazy or praying.’”
“I was actually praying to God about whether or not I was supposed to be married again,” Anderson said. “I had just put it in the Lord’s hands when it felt like my head was being turned, and there she was.”
Anderson said the two greeted each other and continued to walk on their way. When he glanced back, Haynes was looking back as well. After exchanging bashful smiles for catching each other staring, they went along their way.
“All these years I can just see the angels looking down from heaven saying, ‘Wait for it, wait for it, wait for it — Oh No!’ We continued on our separate walks and I did not think about him again.”
But Anderson said he could not stop thinking about Haynes.
“I searched for her,” he said. “I just could not get her out of my head. I went to the Walmart on the north and south side, walked the Bradley Square Mall and even walked from one end to the Greenway and back.”
Five weeks after the initial meeting on the Greenway, Anderson said he felt the Lord wanted him to log onto his computer.
“It felt like God was telling me to get an account with eHarmony, which was something I had never wanted to do before. After answering the questions on eHarmony and saying that I did not want to travel outside of 50 miles my matches popped up. There she was; my first and only match,” Anderson said.
“Online dating was not something I was interested in,” Haynes explained. “They were offering a free sign-up weekend, so I got an account. I had only had one for a couple of days when he popped up on my match list.”
The two hit it off, Haynes said. First through the eHarmony generated questions, then through emails and cellphone texts.
“For our first date we went to the Bald Headed Bistro,” Anderson said. “I had sent her a text earlier asking if she would like to take a walk on the Greenway. When she didn’t sound too excited about that I sent another that offered dinner as an alternative.”
“The Bald Headed Bistro reminded us both of Montana. We discovered that we had not only lived in Montana at the same time, but that we had basically been shadowing each other our whole lives,” Haynes said.
The shadowing began in Cleveland when both Anderson and Haynes were newly married and in their 20s.
“At the time we were both happily married,” Haynes said. “We didn’t even realize that we lived on the same street!”
Anderson and Haynes left Cleveland around the same time before settling three hours apart from each other in Montana.
“I was working as a traveling nurse and he was working in the fire cache where supplies were kept in case of forest fires,” Haynes explained.
This discovery, along with a mutual love for the outdoors kept the two talking for hours on their first date.
“I went into the date thinking I would gain a friend to walk on the Greenway with,” Hayes said. “I came out thinking, ‘Wow, he is really cool — I really like him.’”
That night Anderson received a call from his son asking how the date had gone.
“I told him that it had gone great and that I really wanted to call her again,” Anderson said. “He told me that I could not call her because I would seem too pushy.”
“Our children were very supportive of our relationship. His son was giving him dating advice and my daughters were telling me what was in fashion and encouraging me to see him,” Haynes said.
The next day the two met at Starbucks.
“It was daylight when we got there and dark when we left,” Anderson said.
“I creamed him in Checkers,” Haynes exclaimed.
They both knew that the other was “The One” by Valentine’s Day of 2011, said Haynes.
“I sent her a dozen tulips to where she worked and I got a text from her that read, ‘What did you do?’” Anderson recalled.
“That night we went to the Melting Pot to eat. He is allergic to shellfish, but was uncertain about lobster. It turns out he is allergic to lobster as well. He swelled up just like in that movie ‘Hitch.’ We went to the drugstore to get him some Benadryl. It was another ‘best date ever,’” she said.
Anderson proposed less than a month later at the Greenway, where they first met, near Kingsway Press, on March 11, 2011.
“I was so nervous I could have been sweating bullets,” Anderson said. “I was waiting in the car for her while she was in the tanning bed, trying to decide the best way to propose. When she came out I asked her if she was in a hurry.”
“I told him ‘No’ so he drove down the street and pulled into the parking lot next to Kingsway Press,” said Haynes.
Anderson said that it was chilly outside so he decided to propose to her in his truck.
“Its funny,” Haynes said. “He asked me to marry him when we were wearing the same clothes that we had on the first day we might: a T-shirt and sweats, with no make-up.”
“I turned to her to begin my speech, when she heard ‘Life is a Highway’ come on the radio,” Anderson recalled.
“I turned the radio up, told him it should be our song and proceeded to sing the rest of the words,” Haynes said.
“After the song ended I turned down the radio before giving my speech and showing her the ring. When I asked her to marry me she just stared for a minute before saying, ‘Yes!’” Anderson said.
The next day the two decided to marry on Nov. 11, 2011.
“Last year my daughter was trying to decide when to get married,” Haynes said. “As I was walking on the Greenway the date 11/11/11 came to mind. My daughter chose 9/10/11, but I remembered my initial date when Kenneth and I were trying to choose one.”
It helped that the two ran into 11s everywhere the day following their engagement.
“When we were driving, the radio DJ announced that song number 11 was coming on, my diabetic monitor read 111 and her seat at the show we were attending in Gatlinburg was 11,” Anderson said.
In the midst of wedding plans and last minute changes, the two still have a minute to offer up some advice for the young and old alike.
“Don’t rush in,” Haynes said. “Learn to have a relationship between yourself and the Lord and know who you are in Him. Know him as your very best friend. When you meet your future spouse they will become your best friend. If you have spent the time with the Lord that you need to then you will know what it feels like to have a best friend. Then there will be three of you — Jesus walks with you.”
And, of course, the two have time for love.
“I try to think of the words to describe how much I love her and there aren’t any,” Anderson said. “All I can do is tell her. And spend the rest of my life, every second, showing her.”
“How can I not love that?” Haynes asked. “I mean the man is just. ... I can’t wait!”