It was over three decades since they last saw each other. He left Karen feeling heartbroken and rejected. Now, he wanted to get to know her again.
More than 30 years had passed and she wasn’t the type to hold grudges. She agreed. She enjoyed rekindling their love story, until she discovered the shocking truth of why he didn’t call her back all those years ago.
Fated First Date
At 18 years old, Rick Hayward and Karen Lynch went on their first date. They were wide-eyed and bushy-tailed seniors in Willow Grove high school in Pennsylvania. They had their whole lives ahead of them.
Rick was smitten and nervously excited as he took Karen out for ice cream and bowling. Karen felt the exact same.
Karen remembers thinking that they had real chemistry. A perfect mix of ease and intrigue that doesn’t happen very often.
You know how it is when you fall for someone. You can’t wait to see them or hear from them. You eagerly wait for them to get in touch. Well, imagine Karen’s disappointment as she waited and waited for Rick to reach out to her.
Waiting For The Phone
As is so often the case with dating, it’s never straightforward, so Karen waited affording him the benefit of the doubt. However, soon she realized she would be waiting a really long time.
When Rick’s call never came, Karen was confused and disappointed. She thought their date went great. Maybe he just didn’t feel the same way about her?
Back then, the only forms of instant communication available was a landline telephone, so it was a lot easier to fly under the radar if you didn’t want to see that person ever again. But why would he want to do that? What has changed?
So young Karen Lynch found herself in a confusing and dispiriting situation. She wondered what she had done to cause Hayward not to call her again.
Days turned into months and months turned into years and still, there was never a second date. Although Karen would think of Rick often, time was a wonderful healer.
She soon stopped pinning for a guy that seemed completely unavailable and moved on with her life. She was pretty and sweet. It wasn’t long before someone else caught her eye.
She ended up marrying another man. He was kind, caring and charismatic. On paper, he was everything she thought she wanted.
She had children and started a family and lived an extremely happy life. Little did she know, Rick did also. He also got married and had a family. But time proved to be a devastating force for both of them.
Twist Of Fate
These years saw the pair marry other people and have children. They both lived happy lives completely oblivious to each other. But something kept holding them both back.
But in 2010, in a strange twist of fate, both got divorced. It was only then that Karen finally discovered why one of her very first crushes hadn’t asked her on a second date.
After 33 years of silence, Karen received a friend request that would change her life forever. It was from Rick and it was completely out of the blue.
Thanks to the wonders of Facebook messenger, the pair reconnected, and Karen was unsure of how to feel. She was completely bewildered that he reached out to her again.
She wondered if he could possibly still be interested in her. She was surprised to learn that he recently went through a divorce too. Especially, as it was in the same year as her.
After messaging each other on the social media platform for a while, Karen received an unexpected call from him. He wanted to take her out on a second date. Karen was confused but agreed. She wondered why now and not then? She wasn’t prepared for the answer.
For Karen, this was her one and only opportunity to ask why the date in the 1970s didn’t lead to a second date or even a phone call.
She didn’t know if this guy might disappear again. After the reconciliation, they both began to think about what could have happened all of those years ago. She was surprised to hear the regret in his voice.
It took a massive 33 years for the pair to finally meet again and for Rick to work up the courage to pick up the phone and call Karen.
But when Karen finally had the courage to ask him why he rejected her all those years ago, his answer left her reeling. She wanted for the right moment to ask him such a loaded question.
Blast From The Past
“When I saw Karen on Facebook again I started thinking of maybe what could have been,” Hayward admitted when being interviewed about the remarkable story on the Rachael Ray Show in February 2017.
“I finally got up the courage to ask her out on a second date 33 years later”, Rick said proudly.
Asking The Question
Karen popped the dreaded question. She needed to know the truth. To her surprise his answer was nothing like she imagined.
She listened to him quietly as he explained his feelings for her back then and what was occurring in his own personal life that led to his decision. She was in disbelief.
Rick spoke softly yet sadly, recalling what happened back then.
It turns out Rick was a good man after all because despite having a great first date, he admitted he suffered terribly from shyness which meant he was always too nervous to pick up the phone and ask her out again – despite attempting to on numerous occasions.
The pair began dating and Karen realized why Rick hadn’t called her all of those years ago. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to go on a second date, it was just that he lost his nerve every time he picked up the phone to call her.
Rick said: “I wanted to go out with her again, but I was very shy in high school. Every time I went to pick the phone up I chickened out. Weeks went by…” So much time had passed that Rick realized that he had missed his chance.
Passing Of Time
“I finally said, ‘I can’t call her now. It’s been far too long since that date and she’s gonna be mad at me for not calling her.’ So, I gave up,” he recalled. At the time it seemed like their budding romance was just not meant to be.
But 33 years later, after that all-important second date, love began to blossom.
“I knew I wanted to marry Karen,” Rick admitted. This is when he decided to set up a dramatic proposal. “I took Karen to the jewelry store to do some ‘ring shopping.’”
While Karen was trying on some jewelry, the shop assistant handed Rick a ring. Then what did he do?
The Big Question
In yet another example of Hayward’s sweet-natured persona, he got a shopping assistant to ask Karen, who was busy trying on some merchandise, to try on a ring.
“She says, ‘Here, why don’t you take a look at this one,’ and hands it to me. And I stuck it on Karen’s finger and said, ‘Will you marry me?’”.
Karen looked at the ring and said as soon as she saw the ring, she knew he was being serious. She said yes and marvelled at the sparkly token of love on her finger.
She never really imagined marrying again after her first marriage failed. But then again, she never imagined that Rick would reach back out to her after 33 years and ask her on their second date.
Karen said: “Rick is an incredible person. He’s a gentleman. Best of all, he’s my best friend. He just is everything that I was looking for and some of the things I didn’t even know I was looking for.”
And, as Rick explained, the feeling was mutual. “Karen brought love back into my life and made me feel whole again. I don’t think I really knew what ‘your other half’ meant until now.”
But just when you thought the story couldn’t get any better, media outlets caught wind of the story. Rick took Karen to New York for what she thought was some wedding dress shopping. But little did she know
Rick had yet another awesome surprise for his wife-to-be.
Making A Show
Escorting his wife-to-be into a limo, the chivalrous gentleman handed Karen an iPad. On it was a ready-loaded video from none other than American talk show host Rachel Ray.
Rachel Ray made an announcement that Karen was not ready for. After expressing her happiness for the couple, Ray offered to host the wedding on her very own show the next day!
What’s Going On?
For anyone who has planned a wedding, you’re well aware that it’s a monumental endeavor. Could you imagine having to do all that in just 24 hours? Clearly, there was a lot for Karen and Rick to think about – marriage licenses, finding the perfect dress and other activities that usually take months to plan.
For Karen, the surprises kept coming. Her mom and her soon-to-be-mother-in-law were at Kleinfeld for the dress fitting – but this wasn’t all…
Maid Of Honor
Karen couldn’t possibly get married without her best friend by her side. But to her surprise, Dorie Perdie was already at Kleinfeld!
It turns out a lot of people had known about the surprise wedding but had managed to keep it a secret from Karen. Thanks to Rachel Ray, most of the grunt work had already been taken care of!
The Big Day
With family and close friends surrounding them, the couple had their ceremony in the television studio of the Rachel Roy Show. Emotional vows were exchanged in front of the audience on the most romantic day of the year… Valentine’s Day.
Amazingly this wasn’t the end of the surprises for Karen
The show had organized a luxury honeymoon for the newlyweds.
As soon as the ceremony ended, the pair jetted off to Mexico where they were greeted by a private beach, a golf course, and 24-hour room service.
Starting Something New
For these two lovebirds, it appeared that the Universe conspired with them so they could achieve love in its purest form, and as Lynch tearfully admitted to Rachel on the show.
She didn’t in her wildest dreams imagine she’d find love quite as good as the one she now has with Ray. “We didn’t expect to find this at 50, especially when it was somebody that you knew all your life.”