Love Stories from Neighbors and Friends | community


In honor of Valentine’s Day on February 14th, we asked our readers to share a photo of their Valentine and tell us why their loved one is so special.

Here are their answers:

Looking back nine years ago I remember how lucky I was to find someone like you. As I think of the many years you’ve been by my side, I know we’ve shared more laughs, more smiles, and more love than I could have ever imagined. Thank you for your sweetness everyday, thank you for always encouraging me, thank you for being the best workout buddy, and thank you for still making me feel like the happiest person alive!

My wonderful husband, Sean, you are my heart, my love and my best friend. The kids and I hope your Valentine’s Day is as amazing as you are!

— Aileen Varela, Viera

Alejandro Rodriguez

Even though Disney is in our backyard, fairytale love stories are just that, stories. Or so I thought.

I was in an abusive relationship for six years before walking out the door never to come back. I went on a two year food, prayer and love journey around the world and worked where I lived to make enough money to move to the next place. It was an adventure. I’ve learned who I am and what I want in life.

When I came back to the US I was living in my mother’s basement and still thinking about life. Then I met him – Alejandro Rodriguez. We would marry in Puerto Rico three years later. He always treated me like a queen and now I believe in fairy tales. i live it We moved to Viera from Dallas in late November and our love story continues here where we are so excited to be raising our son. Te amo mucho, mi amor.

— Steffie Rodriguez, Viera

Jeff Piotrowski

February 14, 2014 is a very special day for us. Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day, but it’s also our wedding anniversary! My husband Jeff is such a wonderful gift from God and I am so blessed that he chose me to be his wife. We love spending all of our time together whether it be watching online church services, trying new food recipes, solving puzzles, grocery shopping, gardening and yard work, walking around the area, reading books or just cuddle up quietly and enjoy the moment we can with our sweet dog Samson. Jeff is the kind of man who gives his heart to make someone happy. He will sacrifice anything to make sure he can help change someone’s circumstances. When I think of Jeff, the Bible verse that comes to mind is 1 Corinthians 13:4, “Love is patient. love is kind.”

Our love for each other is forever, forever and no matter what! Happy Valentine’s Day and happy eighth wedding anniversary, my sweet Jeff. Love, hugs and kisses.

— Elaine Piotrowski, Viera

Anton Garcia

This year Anthony and I are celebrating our seventh Valentine’s Day together!

Let’s go to the very beginning. Anthony and I met and when we finally had our first face-to-face date, it was nothing but spectacular.

From that day I’ve been in love with him ever since. Words cannot describe what an amazing husband and father Anthony is. Both myself and my children (Maximiliano and Ella) are so blessed to have him in our lives. I love you and I thank God I met my soul mate and best friend.

– Dayana García, Viera

Cynthia Watkins

How I Met Cynthia, My “Best Friend”

I broke down and burned from a marriage that ended after 22 years. I was so close to ending my life…then I met her.

It happened like every Wednesday… I was going to get the grocery ads from the local paper from a co-worker… and there she was.

He is in his cubicle in our office building in Fort Lee, Virginia.

However, when I saw her engaged in dialogue with my colleague, I quickly and politely withdrew and apologized for interfering in their conversation. But I was told, “No. Stay. We just talked.” I was assured that there was no office romance between these two colleagues.

I quickly held out my hand and leaned in very close to her, “Hi, my name is Tim Pishdad. I don’t think we met!” She backed away cautiously and said, “Hi, I’m Cynthia.” Awkward! As we started our conversation, her smile and eyes sparkled, and she quickly intrigued me to learn more about her. Her personality was vibrant and lively… and she aroused an interest I hadn’t felt in a while.

I went to see her the following week. “Where was her desk, I wondered? Why hadn’t I seen her in the six months I worked here?” …mm. I didn’t find her that busy, sitting behind a very untidy and disorganized desk full of papers etc on a clear and warm June morning.

I said hello So this is where you live.” And we began the typical exchange of small talk etc… until, as I spoke, I visually searched her desk for a piece of paper to use as a speaking prop. I grabbed her disorganized desk and when I grabbed that piece of paper she said, “NO! Don’t touch that!” I quickly grabbed the paper and held it close to my chest and said… “Well, is that a secret military document? If so, it doesn’t have a secret cover sheet.” I knew from her sheepish grin that this paper was something special. I held it up and read it. Mmm, I thought… Title: “Qualities of what I’m looking for in a husband.” When she blushed…I laughed and said, “Very interesting…I have one of those on my desk too!!” She said… “No, you don’t.” So I quickly walked to my desk 30 seconds away and returned with my version of; “What I look for on a date.” She was amused and I gave her my copy. I said, “Keep it so you can add the good points to your list.” She hurriedly invited me to an office group social on the evening of June 21, 2000; only two days away. I said, “Let me check my social calendar.” I turned my head away slightly, turned around, and said, “Ok!”

That night was wonderful. We talked, danced and talked and talked. As the night faded and our colleagues left, we left the club together. I thanked her for the invitation and we said goodbye. As I tried to reverse my truck, I noticed her car blocking my path. I got out of my truck and said, “What’s up?” as I eagerly approached her, I quickly closed the distance between us.

She said, “I thought you might want my home phone number,” I thought, “Well, why would I want that?” I wrote her number on a receipt. (Yes, I still have it!)

I looked into her eyes and felt in my heart that she wanted more. Maybe a kiss goodnight… mmm and I was a willing participant. However, I have always maintained a gentlemanly demeanor. As I was granted access to her personal space, our faces slowly came together, and as I saw her willing and receptive lips prepare for mine, I slowly raised my lips past hers and kissed her like a father would , on her forehead. The shocked look on her face and in her eyes had achieved my goal. Mmm, yes she wanted me, she felt the same way as me. We said goodbye that evening with the same vision that went through our minds. I think I’m in love. Could this be real? Only time would tell.

From that evening our relationship took off like a rocket into space. It has never looked back…over 7 years in a row…(21 years now).

I proposed to her on February 14, 2002 on live local television channel 8 in Richmond, Virginia, on the morning news during a “Sunrise Surprise Valentine’s Day Proposal Special Event.” We were married on May 1st, 2002 by the Justice of Peace under an oak tree in his front yard during our lunch break.

Unfortunately, the army took her away from me after five months of our marriage. She was stationed in South Korea as of October 30, 2002. We were separated for a year, had to cancel our honeymoon in Jamaica and pretty much put our fairytale romance and life on hold.

But everyday I loved this beautiful woman and everyday I feel blessed to have had her in my life. We spoke every day, twice most days. She was the most wonderful partner, lover and best friend I could have ever dreamed of… Cynthia is the love of my life.

Our love has endured through family prejudice and trying to merge two families together. Key to our lasting relationship is our maturity, our willingness to be open and honest with each other, our ability to effectively communicate our feelings, concerns, and issues, and our ability to sit down and work until we reach agreement or compromise enter. Cynthia and I are best friends and we enjoy each other’s company. This list of common goals and characteristics was important; because it showed that we were both looking for the same type of person. Even though my dream woman wasn’t blonde, blue eyed, and 105 pounds, I believe that God helped me find the right person for me. Our commitment to keeping our love fresh and alive, the passion and trust we have in each other amazes our old friends and new acquaintances. We’re really in love with each other. My life partner, best friend and wife, Cynthia K. Watkins is truly a rare and precious gift.

Cynthia is a retired Lt. Col. and sings the national anthem in the community about 12 times a year. – Tim Pishdad, Viera


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