When Don and Diana Ketelaar met on the shuffleboard court at Southern Palms RV Resort in January 2012 they weren’t looking for a relationship. Both were widowers, and as Diana explains “I never thought I’d get married again because I had too much baggage, I wasn’t looking for love.”
Love found them though.
Diana was wearing a bonnet and glasses on the shuffleboard court that fateful day, and when Don saw her he noticed her right away. She was new to Southern Palms and hadn’t yet met Don, who had been pre-occupied with his visiting granddaughters.
But, he couldn’t get her out of his head and asked around about her. When he found out she was single he decided to make a bold move. “I always tell people ‘enjoy life, it has an expiration date and we’re on the expiring side’,” Don says.
So, the next day, he found her once again on the shuffleboard court and asked if she would take off her sunglasses so he could see her face.
“If you can’t see my face you should get some glasses!” she said.
He asked again, and says that when she took her glasses off and he looked into her eyes “love intervened.”
From that moment the two were inseparable. Don and Diana’s story is reminiscent of a teen summer romance —the only difference is they’re snowbirds who were enjoying Florida’s beautiful winter. The two had their first date at the Olive Garden, and spent their days talking and getting to know each other as they walked the park. They discovered they had a lot in common—both are widowers, they each have four children and plenty of grandchildren, and they both love to dance.
“We spent so much time together we knew each other so well,” Diana says. So, when Don decided to take their relationship to the next level she said ‘yes’!
“I proposed to her at one of Southern Palms’ Saturday night dances. The musician gave me the mic and I asked her in front of everyone there.” He says. “I did it a week before Valentine’s Day because I thought she might be expecting it then and I wanted to surprise her.”
Although they hadn’t yet met each other’s families, they did give their children some warning. “I told my children I might be married by the time I got home,” Diana said. “We considered waiting until we were home to have the wedding, but with our blended families we thought it would be total chaos.” Instead, the couple decided to get married in Eustis, surrounded by their friends at Southern Palms, who are like a second family.
“We met with our pastor who does the Sunday services here at Southern Palms and we laughed when he said he had to interview us and give us a questionnaire for newlyweds,” Diana says. “When we saw the results, we looked at each other and were amazed to find we were so connected.”
And that was that.
Twenty-four days after their first date, Diana and Don were married in their pastor’s backyard. “It’s been a wonderful six years and would you believe that in those six years we’ve never had a disagreement?” Don says. “Every day we’re thankful for this blessing. We have a great life.”