By Crystal Bonvillian, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — An Alabama couple’s engagement photo is inspiring belief in people across the country that it is never too late to find love.
Cleveland “Murphy” Wilson and Lucinda Myers, of Huntsville, have had a whirlwind romance. The couple told WAFF in Huntsville that they began dating in April. Wilson, 70, proposed in May, and the couple’s wedding is scheduled for July 29.
It was a photo from their June 19 engagement photo shoot, however, that brought the couple the attention of people from all over the U.S., including several celebrities. In the photo taken at Huntsville’s Big Spring International Park, Myers has an arm around Wilson’s waist, her trademark smile on her face.
An elated Wilson holds up a sign declaring, “She said YES!!!”
The couple told WAFF that the viral photo, which had more than 34,000 likes on Instagram in just three days, was the idea of photographer Gianna Snell, who shot all of their photos that day.
“She made the sign,” Wilson told the news station. “I think it was just part of one of the things she thought would be a good idea. So she said, ‘Hold up the sign and be real excited.’ Well, that wasn’t hard with or without the sign. We were excited anyway.”
Snell wrote in a blog post on her photography website that she thinks people are captivated by the photo because it shows that they should not give up on finding love.
“It reveals that it’s never too late to believe that you will smile again, dance again, love again,” Snell wrote.
‘You look really nice today’
Snell’s blog post told the story of how Wilson, a retired high school teacher, and Myers, a florist and baker, met at their church. Wilson, whose wife of 41 years died in 2013, is the director of the Inspirational Choir at Huntsville’s First Seventh-Day Adventist Church.
Wilson avoided services for several months after his wife, Antoinette, who was the church pianist, died, but he returned in July of that year, the same month that the divorced Myers moved to Huntsville, Snell wrote.
The pair, who were individually leaving their love lives in God’s hands, attended church without noticing one another for more than three years, Snell wrote. Wilson was the first to notice Myers, who he said has a beautiful smile.
When a fellow churchgoer noticed Wilson staring at Myers one day, she told Myers about her secret admirer.
“Well, if he is admiring me, he has to come to me,” a surprised Myers, who had been divorced for more than 30 years, told her. “I’m certainly not chasing any man.”
She started watching her admirer, however, and making sure she was well-dressed every weekend.
“I would make sure I was looking real cute,” Myers told Snell in the blog post. “I positioned myself to be where he was so that I made sure that he saw me.”
After a while, Wilson summoned the courage to talk to the object of his admiration.
“You look really nice today,” he told her one morning.
She was so surprised, she made him repeat himself, Snell wrote.
Wilson ended up missing the next month of services and, when he returned, he was met with a hug.
“Where have you been with that pretty smile?” Myers asked him.
Wilson told Snell that was when he knew Myers liked him.
An invitation from a mutual friend to have dinner at Wilson’s house over Easter weekend in April sealed the deal for the couple. Myers stayed behind after her ride home had left, and she and Wilson talked for hours.
“I know this is from the Lord, because I prayed for him,” Myers told Snell. “I had been asking God to send me someone, and Murphy is everything I’ve ever wanted in a man.”
Wilson said that he and his fiancée have had two different journeys to get where they are.
“Many people have asked me how I could love again after loving my wife so deeply,” he said. “I can never love someone the way I loved Antoinette, but I can love someone as much as I loved Antoinette. That person that I’ve chosen to love is Lucinda.”
He said he loves Myers for who she is, the same way he loved his first wife for who she was.
“This new love is a continuation of the same book, just a different chapter, which takes nothing away from the earlier chapters of my life,” Wilson said.
“They are completely separate in my mind.”