One afternoon early last year, Florrine Enns was waiting for an elevator to take her to the first-floor of Prestige Assisted Living in Henderson, while Jimmie Joe Monroe was walking up the stairs.
It had been nearly six decades since they last spoke. Only they did not immediately realize it.
“Somebody had called my name out, Flo. And so he said, ‘You know, I used to have a girlfriend named Flo,’ and he said that her real name was Florrine,” said Enns, 85. “Then I said ‘Well, that was my name a very long time ago.”
Later, she grew curious, so she knocked on his door.
Monroe, now 88, opened the door and when Enns said she had four children, he recited their names: Mike, Mark, Vicki and Cindy.
She was immediately taken aback and she called her daughter, Vicki Lahgan.
“She called me and said ‘Honey, I think I might have just met my Jim,’” Lahgan said.
Lahgan, with goosebumps on her arms, told her to get off the phone and talk to Jim.
“Well, when he remembered that from about 58 years ago,” Enns recalled thinking, “I said ‘We’ve gotta sit down and talk.’”
The two had first met as neighbors in Cypress, California in the middle part of the last century. Both were married at the time, but grew close.
Back then, Enns had four young children and a husband who worked late into the night.
She was happy that her neighbor could be there for her family when they needed help. Like the day she had to take her youngest to the emergency room.
Monroe accompanied her and stayed until her husband arrived.
Enns, who went by Florrine Shelton at the time, and Monroe started to feel a connection.
They separated from their spouses.
He divorced his first wife, and she put her marriage on hold for about a year while dating Monroe.
Monroe’s first marriage was ruined by financial hardship, and he did not want to take his chances by getting married again. But Enns’ then husband still hoped to salvage their relationship.
“I told Flo that I couldn’t promise her that I would ever marry her,” Monroe told a reporter recently. “And her husband wanted her back… So that’s what she did.”
The romance was cut short at the end of 1963, and they did not speak to one another for 58 years.
Enns returned to her first husband for 26 years before he was diagnosed with leukemia at 50 and died at 56.
Monroe remarried three years after splitting with Enns.
Both remained in California, raising their separate children, who grew into adults.
After the death of Enns’s first husband, she was single for five years before she eventually married another man, whose name she kept.
Fast forward several more years. They both had daughters who owned homes in Las Vegas, unwittingly perhaps sparking the embers of a long-dormant flame.
Enns’ second husband passed away while she was living in Las Vegas, and her daughter moved her into the senior home in September 2019.
Monroe moved to the senior facility with his second wife in February 2020, who died a few months later.
“My mom had dementia and it was getting increasingly difficult for my dad to be able to have take care of her,” his step-daughter, Debra Hurd, said.
After Enns and Monroe reconnected, they would meet up nearly everyday and talk about the past and how they ended up in the same spot after all those years, taking time with their renewed courtship.
And on March 19, in a ceremony at the home of her daughter, Lahgan, in Las Vegas, Enns took Monroe’s hand, and they said their vows.
“We are committed to each other for life now,” Enns said.
Their love makes them feel young again, they said, even if the old flame may not be as fiery.
Before she met Monroe for the second time, Enns’ arthritis made it difficult to walk, and she mostly moved around in a wheelchair.
“I am incredibly happy for them, I don’t want him to be alone,” Hurd said. “To have a companion that you can talk to and converse with and enjoy in each other’s company. My heart is full.”
These days, she gets by with the help of her walker, and her husband to fix her hair and decorate around their place.
“We still loved each other and I’ve wondered over the years what happened to her and where she was,” Monroe said. “But I never had any idea that I’d ever get a hold of her. And it was quite a miracle.”
Contact Jimmy Romo at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @jimi_writes on Twitter.