For one local couple, the definition of true and undying love did not come until later in life after both had endured pain and heartache, including death and despair.
Recently, Jeff and Kay Goings, of Williford, were featured in the national magazine All You. The article about their amazing story was chosen after Kay, who loves to write, responded to a "Reality Checkers" topic about finding love through adversity. The two were so excited their story was chosen and their photo used in the table of contents, they asked to share it story with the community in which they not only met, but live out their new lives.
For both, the pivotal year, where every range of human emotion was encountered, was 2001. Kay, living near Little Rock, had been divorced for 17 years and was going through a very rough time in her life. Unemployed and unable to get a job in her beloved accounting and bookkeeping profession, she was also suffering depression, sparked by being forced to put her mother in a nursing home. After learning of her mother's terminal illness and ultimate death in May 2001, love was the last thing on Kay's mind.
She was absorbed in her pain and not looking for, much less expecting, anything to change in her life.
During the same time, Jeff also suffered a failing marriage and the loss of his only child, daughter Amanda, in a car crash that occurred on her wedding day. Goings' daughter was critically injured near the couple's current home at Sitka. A few days later, Goings was faced with the heart wrenching decision of having to turn off her life support system, as her condition was never going to improve.
Goings reflected with tears in his eyes the life altering events that occurred the day of his daughter's funeral. He explained that the family was at his home after the funeral when a phone call came that would soon send him on the well deserved path to healing and recovery from the tragic loss.
Amanda was an organ donor and, after her death, her body was sent to St. Louis to allow surgeons to harvest organs and tissues to help save the lives of others. The person on the other end of the phone call that day told Going's they would not be able to utilize Amanda's body because, "She was eaten up with pancreatic cancer."
The phone call brought a sense of peace and healing to Goings, knowing his only child would never have to suffer the pain and illness associated with cancer.
After losing his daughter just six months earlier, the last thing Jeff was looking for in 2001 was a relationship of any kind. As fate would have it, a higher power had more in mind for both Kay and Jeff.
Kay had a special life-long friend in Linda Thompson, w the secretary for Sharp County Judge Larry Brown and, at that time, County Judge Harold Crawford. Thompson, knowing of her friend's depression and the recent loss of her mother, invited Kay to come up for a cookout for the Sharp County Road Department.
Kay said she thought about it, and at first, wasn't especially keen about going. The event was on the weekend, and she smiled and said during the middle of the week she, "felt a feeling of euphoria." Kay decided to go and, by Friday , was actually excited to be getting out of the house for some social time, something she had not done in a long time.
During her conversation with Thompson on Friday, her friend revealed that she had someone she would like her to meet. Although agreeable, she admits she wasn't expecting a lot after being single for 17 years. She said she had heard of Jeff Goings and the loss of his daughter in March, but knew none of the details of the loss.
After making the trip, she and Thompson went to the hog roast at the fairgrounds where Goings was in charge of cooking the meat. She smiles and recalls their first meeting, "He was in pork up to his elbows when we came into the exhibit hall, and he turned around to say hello." Linda's husband, Bill, was helping cook the hog, and Thompson mentioned to Goings the night before the cookout, about the possibility of meeting Kay.
Jeff smiles and recalls their first meeting and how he knew it was her, "Because she looked like a lost puppy."
They were both hoping there would be room for them to sit together after preparing the food, and later sat together for the meal. "We started talking and we didn't quit, it was like we had known each other for years," Kay said.
After the cookout, Jeff and Kay rode around and took the opportunity to visit and get to know each other. Kay said that was when Jeff revealed details about the loss of Amanda only three months earlier.
Although Kay had been through a terrible loss herself, she said Jeff's loss was so much greater that hers paled in comparison. She said, during their talk, she placed her hand on his neck and comforted him.
Jeff said at that time he knew she was an very caring person. The two went back to the Thompson's home and, although Kay still had to drive a long distance to pick her daughter up from work, she did not want to leave.
She said she hugged him goodbye and said, "I have never had anything happen like this before in my life and I have had three husbands." She described the seemingly electric connection, "When our chests touched as I hugged him, it was like a spark, almost like a "fall back" thing." After telling him good bye, she invited him to come visit her and he agreed to go see her.
She said, although she felt they had a connection, the next day was Father's Day and he did not call. Goings said he woke up that morning and stayed alone the entire day as this was his first Father's Day without his daughter. Goings called her the next evening and, although he was not normally one to enjoy talking on the phone, they stayed on the phone for five hours, and many conversations occurred later, talking as long as eight hours.
In August, just two months after they met, Kay moved in with Goings. She said it was easier for her to relocate because Goings had a secure job and lived on a plot of land that had been in the family for generations. The two married in October, six days after her fiftieth birthday. She recalls the day he proposed, on her birthday. Goings took Kay to a beautiful overlook near Ozark Acres and she gladly accepted his marriage proposal. The two were married by his cousin six days later.
The life altering experiences the two went through brought them love and healing -- and a fresh new life filled with happy memories as they look forward to the golden years together hand and hand.
In 2001, Goings said he lost his daughter, went through a divorce, met Kay and got married, a true testament to fate and the ability of the human spirit to heal.
In 2011, the two celebrated their ten year anniversary and the glow in both their eyes as they recall the way they met and overcame adversity through love is undeniable.
"A pig had to die," Goings said laughing, "for us to be together," referring to the hog cookout where they met more than 10 years ago.