Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

February 1, 2016

Lost & Found Blog Hop


I'm taking part in the Lost & Found Love blog hop today, because you know, any excuse to tell our love story!

My husband and I met in high school, although we weren't a couple in those days.  He sat behind me in study hall one year when I was in 9th grade and he in 11th grade (1978-79).  I was always a 'chatty cathy' in school so of course I would turn around in my seat and try to talk to and joke with the boy behind me. Russell, however, was generally very gruff and kind of scared me.  He was always telling me to turn around, quit looking at him and mind my own business.  I did my best to honour his wishes but eventually he became friendlier, calling me 'Blondie' and 'Shorty'.  I didn't see him much after that year, and he graduated in 1980.

Flash forward to January 7, 2011.  I came home from work that day to a friend request on Facebook from him.  I was stunned....I couldn't believe that he remembered me, much less reached out to be my FB friend.  He also sent a message that said that I probably didn't remember him, but we'd gone to high school together.  I took a screen grab of that moment.


I admit, I was all aflutter when I got his request although I didn't know why.  Other male high school friends had sent friend requests too and it was more like, 'hey how's it going'.  This time, I was like, 'OMG OMG he remembers me!  Maybe he didn't hate me after all!'  That grin face at the end of my sentence there was not something I usually did.


We spent a week catching up by private message.  I would come home each day from work to up to 99 notifications....all from him liking or commenting on my pictures.  Not just pictures of high school and our hometown, but ALL my pictures.  My life.  I was a little scared at first.  Did he like me? He knew I was married.  We were being flirty in our messages.  

On January 14, I came home to find a notification of a comment on this picture of the soccer team, where in 2009, I'd been discussing with other friends that I'd had a crush on the team.  You could have knocked me over with a feather to see, 'joanne u had a crush on them and I had one on u lol  I couldn't even talk 2 u.'  Holy crap.  He was mean to me because he liked me!  




I was floored.  I didn't think I was on anyone's radar back in school.  I sent him a private message telling him that I would have dated him then....and if I was single I'd date him now.  I knew I was taking a huge chance saying that, but I was having feelings for him already.  We talked.  And talked and talked via message.  I took the dangerous next step of starting to call him.  What was I doing?  I was married for nearly 22 years at that point, though not happily.  I started to call him on my way to and from work.  

He told me that he'd fallen in love with me in school and reconnecting on FB brought all the feelings back.  That he'd always hoped he'd run into me in town but it was like I'd disappeared off the face of the planet.....he never thought to look on the west coast.  He couldn't believe that the Joanne Mendonza that popped up in Washington State could possibly be me, till he saw that person was a fellow Sandwich High alum.  He told me that he'd told his best friend Robin that all the feelings were back but I was married and he didn't know what to do.  Robin encouraged him to tell me about his crush, just to see what would happen.

By January 21st I was head over heels.  I couldn't stop thinking about him.  But what was I going to do?  I was married and 3,200 miles away, living in a place I really loved.  He told me if I came back, he'd spend the rest of his life making me happy.  I wouldn't have to work.  I should mention that he'd also sworn off marriage.  I told him that if I was going to come back here, there was absolutely no way I was going to be a terminal girlfriend.  I would insist on eventual marriage and he told me that I was the only woman he would even consider marrying.

Told my husband it was over in February, filed for divorce in March, and flew back east to see Russell in person for his birthday.  He was waiting for me at the airport in baggage claim.  I remember coming down the escalator and seeing him, we both grinned, I literally ran to his arms for the longest hug and kisses.  It was absolutely 100% right.  We spent those precious days together and then I flew back to the west coast to wrap up my life.  House went on the market, started packing and setting up a rental house back here.  

It was the longest 3 months - April, May and June - till my divorce was finalized, PODS came and picked up the shipping container full of my stuff, and Pepper & I moved into a hotel near SeaTac Airport.  Russell flew in from Boston on June 24th and drove us across the country back to Massachusetts.  (I flew Sagan east 7 months later when my now ex-husband became terminally ill and couldn't care for him anymore).  

We got engaged August 2, 2012.


And married on August 17, 2014. 

I love this man more than anything....more than I've ever loved anyone.  I am so grateful, every day, that he found me. 

50 comments:

  1. I wish you could see the smile that I have on my face right now. It's as big as the one in your picture. The love you guys share is evident in your photo. Such a wonderful love story. Thank you for sharing it!!

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    1. Thanks Elsie! He is soooo awesome. He still gives me the butterflies!! Love stories like this only happen to gorgeous actresses in the movies, not middle aged women like me. lol

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  2. You may have two from me, since my first comment disappeared or so it seems.

    This is a SWEET love story. Love it. To think that the gruffy guy behind you in class would become your love. Woot!

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    1. Thanks Teresa! Yeah I had no idea at the time that he liked me. He said that he was mean to me b/c he melted when he looked in my eyes or I smiled at him, and then he couldn't breathe. So the only way to survive was to tell me to turn around. It's funny cause his youngest son & now girlfriend had the same type of thing when they were in high school (same one that we graduated from) too...she was friendly to him, he kind of blew her off. Now they are awesome together!

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  3. Wonderful story and fits the category perfectly. I hope you happiness continues.

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  4. It's such a lovely story and I'm glad you're so happy. My daughter first met her husband when she was sixteen and had a job after school. She asked him out but he was 21 and said she was two young for him. He was also very grumpy with her when she put phone calls through to him at work. Ten years later he friended her on Facebook and they are now married. Yeah! for Facebook!

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    1. I am sooooo grateful for Facebook. The ironic thing is, he was sort of seeing someone at the time and she convinced him to join FB so that they could keep in touch easier as she was also in another state. So he looks me up instead. lol Needless to say, she came after both of us with guns blazing when he dumped her.

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  5. You began to live again that day. Your whole life and attitude changed and I was so happy for you. Still am...and jealous. :) He's a great guy and you are so lucky.

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    1. Thanks Ducky. I remember clearly how supportive you were (and still are) during that whole spring. You were one of a small circle of people who knew what was going on and I'm so grateful for that.

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  6. Awe!!! What a beautiful love story...and the best part is that it is the real deal. You and Russell were meant to be!!

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    1. Thank you so much Kathy! I wish he could have found me earlier, but I don't think the timing would have been as right as it was when we finally got together.

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  7. Oh, awesome! I wasn't generally chatty back then, but I did like to talk to shy boys for some reason. Very fun to find each other after all this time!

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    1. Thanks Hart and thank you for stopping by! I just talked to everyone...I was so isolated as an only child in a quiet/rural part of town, so going to school was a big social thing for me. I can't tell you how many times I had my seat moved by the teachers, or got in trouble for passing notes & talking in class. lol

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  8. What a beautiful story. You so deserve happiness. I'm looking forward to reading many more posts about your wonderful life together!

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    1. Thanks Liz! He's such a sweetheart. A big teddy bear. I'm so blessed. I adore my stepkids and their significant others too.

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  9. That is an amazing tale how the feelings you both had in high school endured after so many years.

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    1. Thank you Tamara. Honestly he was the one with the feelings...I was scared of him and didn't get a good look at him because he was always telling me to turn around. I just remembered a big, husky boy with a thick mop of blonde hair and blue eyes. And yet he never came looking for me in the mid 80s when we were in our late teens and early twenties and I still lived in the same town as him.

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  10. Your story is wonderful, I'm so happy for you both!

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  11. If only that gruff guy could have opened his mouth way back in the day, right?

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    1. I know right? I give him so much crap (jokingly of course) about asking all these other girls out once he was older, and never once coming to the other side of town to find me. I was in the damn phone book. I worked at a large hotel/restaurant right downtown. I probably even saw him delivering Coke somewhere in town, which is where he worked after high school. But he told me that because I was his dream girl, he didn't want to risk me shooting him down.

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  12. Wow, not that's some love story. Thanks for sharing!
    I love the picture of Mt. Rainier. Miss it horribly!

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    1. Thanks so much Yolanda! I miss it too. Did you used to live in Washington? I'm in Mass now.

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  13. A happy ending! See, guys really are scared to death to talk to girls. If only you girls realized that.

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    1. Thanks Alex! Yeah I guess they are scared. It never occurred to me cause I'd see plenty of classmates with boyfriends in the hallways so I never knew that not all boys have that confidence.

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  14. I don't like Facebook and closed down my page about 6 years ago, but maybe there is something to it and it can be used for good. Too bad the two of you couldn't have gotten together sooner, before you married someone else. Yikes, to all those years in between.

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    1. I'm not sure it would have worked if he'd found me earlier. We really didn't have much in common in those days. The timing in 2011 was perfect.

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  15. This is PERFECT! What a wonderful story... Reading the Lost & Found posts has made me think that life truly exceeds fiction in all sorts of wonderful, amazing ways. How lovely that you found each other after so many years, that you connected so quickly, that you had the guts to let each other, and your feelings for each other, into your lives—and live them, fully, no holds barred. I have only an inkling of the strength and force of character it must've taken, especially on your side, given your marriage. Kudos to you, Joanne. To you both.

    Thanks so much for sharing this on the Lost & Found hop! So glad you joined :)
    Guilie @ Life In Dogs

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    1. Thanks Guilie! It was a wild ride for sure at the beginning, those 6 months of long distance. I didn't think he was gonna make the trip west....and he was afraid he'd get to Washington and I wouldn't answer the phone or come get him. lol We were both afraid the other would chicken out. But the desire to be with each other was so strong. He still thinks I must have a head injury to be with him. lol

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  16. You two look so happy together! It sounds like the story worked out perfectly for you.

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    1. Thanks! It really did! He's the best thing that ever happened to me.

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  17. Even though you'd told me this story, I have goosebumps from reading it (again). So sweet. I'm glad you both took a chance. It was clearly well worth it.

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    1. Thanks Robyn. We are both glad that we took the chance. He was soooo damaged and afraid to trust me. But now he's finally happy, as am I.

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  18. Cutest story EVER!!!! Seriously. Thank you Internet!!!

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    1. Thanks Tammy! I am so grateful to Facebook and the internet!

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  19. Facebook has become such an interesting and useful tool for reconnecting with people in our past. Wonder what would have happened if you and Russell had gotten together before you ever got married the first time? Something for speculation, but history is as it is.

    Thanks for joining us in the blog hop. I knew you'd come up with a good story. And you are a good writer--don't allow yourself to believe otherwise.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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    1. Thanks so much Lee! I like to write but I don't really practice it all that much. I have a feeling that he & I wouldn't have lasted if we got together any earlier esp. in the 80s. We were just way too different. His kids wouldn't exist because I wasn't having kids. So the timing was perfect.

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  20. Wow, what a love story! Fate is a funny thing... Obviously you two were meant to be together...all these years later! Such a great story. Thanks for sharing all of it. I loved seeing your FB messages! :)
    Just goes to show you: You never know what's around the next corner...

    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. Thanks Michele! I'm so lucky and I know it. And he knows he's lucky too!

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  21. I reckon the universe decided it was "your time," (finally!) and thanks to good ol' Facebook, you guys were able to make it happen. May you always be as happy as you look in that picture. :)

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    1. Thank you so much Susan! The timing really was perfect.

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  22. Oh my word that's just amazing that it all fell into place after all these years. :-)

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    1. Thank you Misha. I still can't believe it myself sometimes! lol

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  23. How sweet! I hope you both live a long and happy life together.

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    1. Thank you so much Elizabeth!

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  24. JoJo, This is so sweet. I wish you a very happy life, filled with many precious moments!

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  25. Best love story,EVER!phyllis

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    1. Thanks Phyllis! It really is!

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