By Melissa Klaric
Herald Staff Writer
Fate brought Janelle and Bob McDonough of Hermitage to match.com in 2002 after they both suffered through the loss of their spouses.
Their story is not so much about online dating as it is about a couple thankful to have a second chance at love, and dedicated to making new memories together.
Janelle was married for 13 years when her husband started having heart problems, went in for surgery and passed away from a staph infection at 52.
By 2002, Janelle wanted to try to move on with her life.
“I started thinking to myself that I really wanted to find someone just to talk to and have a friendship with,” Janelle said.
Bob’s “before Janelle” story finds him in the Oil City area, married for almost 27 years. He took care of his wife through her many complications with diabetes, including blindness, and the loss of circulation in her feet.
She passed away in May 2002, and left Bob thinking he was on his own for the rest of his life.
“I ended up in Carlisle and went to my 30th class reunion and thought, ‘Maybe I don’t want to be alone,’ ” Bob said. “Then I saw the ad for match.com, and thought I could just find somebody to talk to.”
“It just so happened it was the same weekend that I happened to log on,” Janelle said. “It was just kind of spur of the moment. We both had the same idea at the same time on the same day and, thank God, we did.”
She “interacted” with Bob – online talk for “Hi, how are you?” – but he didn’t interact with her right away. So they have two different “meeting dates.”
Janelle says she met him on Sept. 10, 2002; he noticed her trying to get his attention 10 days later.
“It’s basically where it started,” Janelle said. “We took it slow.”
Part of the reason for that was that one of them had problems with the Internet; after that, someone’s cell phone gave out.
“What if I would go to Hermitage, would you go to a movie with me?” Janelle continued, remembering Bob’s words to her.
She explains waiting in the theater for him, not knowing the reason he was late was because he got stuck behind slow cars.
“In walks a man with a single red rose,” Janelle said. “I knew I had a sweetheart from there on.”
They spent four hours in a local restaurant after the movie.
“That was September,” Janelle continued. “In November there was a bump in the road.”
Bob suffered a heart attack and had five bypasses.
“This is like deja vu,” Janelle said, referring to what she went through with her first husband. “What is going on here?”
Janelle took Bob under her wing. Bob’s son lives far away, and has special needs; his daughter had just had a baby.
Janelle helped Bob recover through February.
“This gave us a lot of time and ability to let the relationship grow and blossom and see how we felt about each other,” Janelle said.
Janelle said her family didn’t care that the two met over the Internet.
“My family loves my husband,” she said. “They could see that we were very much in love and they were happy for me that I had found someone to love again.”
Bob had people at work and friends tell him he was dating too early from when his wife died.
“It was meant to be and it happened,” Bob told them.
On March 31, 2003, Bob took Janelle to the same restaurant as their first date. There he proposed.
“From there, it was wedding plans,” Janelle said.
In between their first date and Bob’s heart attack, Bob would travel 41/2 hours from Carlisle to spend his days off with Janelle. He surprised her the first time.
“I was shocked. I said, ‘What are you doing here; you’re crazy,’ ” Janelle said.
“That was the point when I thought I could be falling for him because nobody does that if they don’t care.”
March to June saw Bob spending a lot of time on the road between Carlisle and Greenville. All the while working 12-hour shifts.
“I truly felt like a man living out of a suitcase with no country,” Bob said.
Bob moved and started a job in Kent, Ohio, just in time for the Sept. 4 wedding in 2004 at The Farm in Adamsville.
“It was a really pretty wedding,” Janelle said. “It was intimate. We didn’t need all that fluff.”
Their Caribbean honeymoon was steered off course by a hurricane, stretching out their honeymoon by two days.
The couple will celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary this fall.
Janelle was accepted with open arms into Bob’s family. Although she technically didn’t have children of her own, she now considers Bob’s son and daughter to be hers also.
“It’s grown much deeper than that over ten years,” Janelle said. “They treat me like I’m their mother. And we have four wonderful grandchildren.”
“I’m very happy with my life right now,” Janelle said. “Something I never thought I’d get.”
“Spending good, quality time with the kids and grandkids,” Bob said.
Janelle explained that on each of the grandkids’ fifth birthdays, they took them on a vacation that included their first plane trip.
“We have managed to bond with each one,” Janelle said.
The vacations included trips to Cape Canaveral, Fla., the Rocky Mountains and a Disney cruise.
“It’s all about building memories for our grandkids,” Janelle said. “They still talk about their trip. They are really the apples of our eye.”
The pair stresses the importance of spending lot of time with each other.
“Devote your time to appreciating what you have in life because you never know when you’re going to lose that person,” Janelle said.
“When we go to weddings I tell the bride to be honest with each other, love each other, and never, ever let an opportunity to say you love someone go because you may never see them again,” Bob said.
“Working together, cleaning the house. All those mundane jobs,” Bob said. “We try to make the most of those opportunities to stay as connected now as we were when we first met.”
Janelle and Bob laugh and joke about how the other has enhanced their lives.
“I’ve always been a Pennsylvania guy,” Bob said. “Janelle has helped me see more of the country.”
Likewise, Bob introduced her to Broadway plays and the ballet.
“Bottom line. For us it was a success story and I wouldn’t have done anything any different,” Janelle said.