It’s never too late to fall in love.
Just ask Thermond and Irma Jean Holmes of Long Lake — who dated while attending high school in Oakwood in the 1950’s — and reconnected for the first time in 58 years in 2010.
They tied the knot two weeks ago on July 9 — both at the age 77.
“It was love at first sight after all those years,” Irma Jean said as she and her husband shared their love story from their home in Long Lake Thursday.
The former Irma Jean Potts and Thermond dated in 1951-52 as teenagers, meeting at a club where teenagers would go to dance.
“He graduated in 1952 and I graduated in 1954. As soon as Thermond graduated, he moved from Oakwood. I never knew where he was,” Irma said. “After graduation, I moved to Galveston, where I lived for 55 years. I thought about Thermond many times, but I never inquired about him.”
They both moved back to the Palestine area in recent years.
Thermond had lived in Houston for 60 years, retiring after 39 years as an air conditioning repair man. He moved back to Oakwood in 2007. In 2010, Type II diabetes led to having his legs amputated at the knees and he moved in to Greenbrier Nursing & Rehab Center in Palestine.
“I planned to live at Greenbrier until I died,” Thermond said. “I never expected to meet Irma Jean again and fall in love.”
Irma Jean moved from Galveston to the Long Lake area to be near her sister and other family members on March 7, 2010, after her husband of 38 years passed away.
“After my husband died, I thought that chapter of my life was over. I thought ‘it’s over for me.’ I had no intention of dating again,” Irma Jean said. “But when I reconnected with Thermond, a new chapter of my life began. It’s been nothing but fun, happiness and joy. He made me want to live again.”
The couple reconnected by pure chance when a friend of Thermond’s called him at the nursing home, mentioning a lady she was introduced to at Walmart.
“She told him my name was Irma Jean. He told me he started questioning her. She told him that I had just moved back here from Galveston. He knew that I was the Irma Jean he had been inquiring about over the years,” Irma Jean said.
He asked the friend to give Irma Jean his phone number.
“This was the magic moment. I was elated. What a joyous moment. It had been 58 years since we had spoken, we were happy,” Irma Jean said. “We talked on the phone day and night, hours and hours. After two weeks, I visited him at Greenbrier. We couldn’t believe we were actually seeing each other again after so many years.
“That’s when the flicker became a flame” Irma Jean said with a smile.
After dating for about a year, Thermond proposed. They were married by Justice of Peace James Westley.
“We are 77 years old and very happy,” Irma Jean said.
All the time they were Houston and Galveston living separate lives, the two never ran into each other over the years.
“In all my travels, I had never met anyone with her name — Irma Jean — quite an unusual name. So when I heard the name mentioned, I knew was her. Last I heard, she was married. I didn’t know her husband had passed away,” Thermond said. “A the age of 16 you fly by night. I didn’t think I would ever see her again. But that particular girl stuck with me over the years.”
Now that they are together, the Holmes are enjoying each other’s company — learning each other’s stories and recalling the past as they make new memories together.
“We go places and do things together, go to church together, we just enjoy life. We love each other,” Irma Jean said. “I feel we were meant to be, that God put us in the right place at the right time.”
It’s never too late to fall in love.
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