Many people have asked me the question, “How did you and Helen meet?” Well, it’s a wonderful story, so wonderful, that I am posting it for all of you to read on the “Holmsey Blog”. Back in 1992, a wonderful friend Karen invited me to a “pajama party” that she was hosting and mentioned that there was a very nice girl named Helen who will be there also. Karen added that Helen enjoys and collects classic TV shows, movies, animation, etc…..just like Johnny Boy!!!!!!! I met the enchanting Helen Reaves at Karen’s party and it was a joy to sit and chat with her. We talked about lots of neat things that we both were very fond of (and still are) including, “The Outer Limits”, “Twilight Zone”, “The Three Stooges” and various other things. I also found out she was a very hard working young lady, teaching full time, working part time at Primerica and at Blockbusters, and extremely active in her church. I was instantly very interested in her and I thought she was a wonderful young lady!!!! We really seemed to “hit it off” that night, however, later on I found out that sweet Helen was in a serious relationship with a young man from Turkey, and she was in a committed relationship with plans of marriage. Obviously, I was saddened, and heart-broken to hear this news. However, as we all know, life moves on. Later on that same year, as many of you already know, I met another young lady that would eventually lead to marriage in 1994.
Now we must flash forward five years to 1999. It is at this time that the 1999 “Mrs. Holmes” has decided to leave and move on. Obviously I was extremely distraught and lost. This event also coincided with my health rapidly deteriorating. As most of you who personally know me, I am a “Big Guy”. Well back during this period in late 1999, my weight drastically dropped to less than 150 pounds and I was quite sickly. Meanwhile, after the former Mrs. Holmes moved out, I did my best to move on, and surround myself with positive photos, touch base with positive friends from the past, and reconnected myself with my hobbies. I was very blessed that family and friends rallied behind me and added to my support function. At this point, my friend Karen suggested that I touch base with Helen and maybe go out with her. Yes, the same Helen I met in 1992. It turned out that Helen’s engagement had broken off. That was really sweet of Karen, but as you can imagine, I was quite “gun-shy” and was a bit reluctant and very nervous about going out with Helen. However, I suggested to Karen that we do a group breakfast as an “ice breaker”. So, Karen arranged for us all to meet at the “Bob Evans” restaurant in Mount Laurel for a nice, relaxing, group breakfast. As I said, I was initially quite nervous, but with the group there, and Helen there, as sweet as ever, all the magic came back from when we first met in 1992. Even though I was rail thin, and quite sickly, Helen was sweet and kind and made me feel at ease. Yes, the lightning bolt struck that Saturday morning October 30th in 1999. Helen and I eventually got together ourselves for a movie and dinner, we started chatting on the phone a bit, we went Christmas shopping at the mall together, and we attended a Church Christmas Party together in Marlton. It was wonderful, our young love was blossoming and we both were very happy!!!!
All was well and Helen & I planned to see “Toy Story 2” and have a wonderful dinner at TGI Friday’s and then, the rug got pulled out from under our feet……..I was rushed to the Hospital Emergency Room where I was diagnosed with having a Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA), and I was admitted into the Intensive Care Unit, and I actually came pretty close to death……….all of a sudden, a pretty scary time in my life. However, the good Lord was smiling down on me, and it was not my time yet. I was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic and immediately put on insulin, and slowly but surely my recovery began. My sweet Helen faithfully came to visit me as often as she could, even though she was driving all the way to Vineland for her full time teaching job, and she was working part-time for a Presbyterian Church down in Delaware and busy preparing for the Christmas activities, since Christmas was only a week away. I felt so bad laying there in the ICU, not being able to “keep our date” of going to see “Toy Story 2” and dinner at “TGI Friday’s”. I told Helen how sorry I was that our plans were derailed, and I’ll never forget, as she was sitting there holding my hand in the ICU, she said “that’s okay……….we are still together”. At that moment, my heart melted!!!!! I knew Helen was my soul-mate. At that point, she was stuck with Johnny Boy!!!!! I continued to improve and I was discharged Christmas morning 1999……..the best Christmas present that I ever received. I moved around very slowly for some time. Adjusting to the diabetic highs and lows was no easy task. Additionally, the neuropathy drastically increased in my feet so much that I could hardly sleep. Helen was so patient and understanding of my limitations. My energy level was quite limited and I could hardly walk without intense pain in my feet. Many evenings after I got home from work, I would just sit and watch TV and go to bed early. When Helen was able to, she would come over and sit with me and keep me company. I fondly remember her making popcorn for us while we watched the Game Show Network. Our love grew and grew, despite my health issues. At this point I was walking with a cane. She always slowed her step to stay with me when I walked with my cane. Thankfully, by the grace of God, and Helen’s love, I started to improve slowly but surely. I was adjusting to the insulin, which also prompted lots of weight to return, a problem that I still struggle with, and try to work on the best that I can. Over time, my neuropathy improved and slowly reversed,….. a true blessing.
While talking one evening, I remember Helen & I discussing about us taking a trip together somewhere, and she asked me if there was anywhere I wanted to go. I told her ever since I was a young kid; I always wanted to see “Mount Rushmore”. As a youngster, I always was a bit of a President buff, and I always thought it would be neat to see the famous Presidential carvings in Mount Rushmore. At that point, my sweet Helen turned to me and said, “It’s out there……let’s go!!!!” With that being said, Helen & I planned a wonderful trip to South Dakota. In September of 2001, Helen & I flew out to Rapid City, South Dakota and we toured the area including the glorious Presidential Monument carved in Mount Rushmore known as the “Shrine of Democracy”. While there we also toured the “Crazy Horse Memorial” and we took a quick side trip into Wyoming to tour “Devils Tower”. Helen and I had a great vacation and we got bit by the “travel bug”. The following year we vacationed at the beautiful Chincoteague/Assateague, Virginia, and later that same year, we took a fantastic vacation to Niagara Falls, Canada. It was during this Niagara Falls vacation that I asked my sweet Helen to be my bride. After accepting my proposal, I was indeed, the happiest guy on the planet!!!!! Helen and I started to plan our wedding and we mutually decided to have a “Getaway Wedding in Las Vegas”. Our Wedding Day was July 12th 2003 and we had a blast in Las Vegas. Friends and family joined us for our joyous event and stayed for a mini-vacation. Helen & I honeymooned all week in Las Vegas where we saw many shows, toured Hoover Dam/Lake Mead, and saw the majestic Grand Canyon. We had a marvelous, spectacular time becoming Mr. & Mrs. Holmes in beautiful downtown, Las Vegas. Many, many more trips would follow over the years.
Helen & I would encounter a “bump in the road of life” the very next year in the summer of 2004. Helen was diagnosed with breast cancer. Fortunately, the cancer was only the size of a pea, however it was aggressive. Helen had a lumpectomy in August, and followed up with chemotherapy, and in February of 2005, Helen went through a month of radiation treatments. Helen was positive, upbeat, and an absolute joy the whole time she was going through this ordeal. Even more amazing is that the whole time Helen was dealing with this; she was learning her new position with the Office of Unclaimed Property, under the Department of Treasury with the State of New Jersey in Trenton. Helen is certainly an amazing individual and we are proud that in August, she will be 9 years cancer free!!!!! Every year we celebrate another year of being “Cancer Free” as we participate in the 5K “Walk for Hope” in Philadelphia, walking over the Ben Franklin Bridge as a team named “Helen’s Hikers”. We are hoping to get a big team of “Helen’s Hikers” together in 2014 to celebrate the huge milestone of 10 years cancer free. If anyone is interested, let us know!!!!
And now Helen & I have reached our milestone 10th Wedding Anniversary!!!!! I love Helen more and more each day. We have had so much fun, laughter, and joy over the 10 fun-filled years that we have been married. We have continued to travel to various places, State Capitals, National Parks, and other neat points of interest, including: Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Salt Lake City, Utah, Acadia National Park, Maine, Chicago, Illinois, Nashville & Memphis, TN, Branson, MO, Austin, TX, Atlanta, GA, Walt Disney World, Boston, MA, Providence, RI, St. Louis, MO, Frankfort, KY, Indianapolis, IN, Toronto, Canada, Washington D.C., and many other fun places in this great country of ours. We also have attended quite a few Nostalgia and Autograph Conventions over the years, where we have been blessed to meet many wonderful celebrities, and we have met and developed many wonderful friendships with some wonderful folks over the years. We also enjoy our relaxing times, sometimes at home, and we also frequent a local coffee shop in downtown Mount Holly called, “The Daily Grind”. If you are ever in downtown Mount Holly, feel free to stop by and say, “Hello”!!!!!!!
Even though this blog entry is just about finished, this is not the end of the “Helen & Johnny” story. Consider it an ongoing, work-in process. We have lots of fun and exciting plans for the future, including a 10th Wedding Anniversary Celebratory “Hawaiian Cruise” in October. Of course, everyday with Helen is indeed, a celebration. And like the classic Carpenters song says, “We’ve only just begun.”