Love: David Heisler & Carrie Taylor Heisler
It was not love at first sight when Carrie and David met at a healing prayer church service in November 2010.
“He looks sick,” thought Carrie.
“She looks old,” thought David.
Despite the first impressions, each of the two, healthy 58-year-olds decided to keep mind and heart open; the friend who introduced them said she felt led by God to do so, and heaven knows their previous romantic choices had been wrong as heck.
Carrie liked how funny David was during their phone calls. She did not like that he seemed hesitant to see her again, even in a group. For the month of December, she lived her life and prayed for guidance.
David admired Carrie, her relationship with Christ, and her devotion to missionary service. She had spent 24 years living and working alongside residents of Tchekos in Cameroon, helping them develop a written form of their language, Nomaande, teaching Nomaande speakers to read the written form, and translating the Bible for them.
In 2010, David assembled cabinets for a living, but earlier in his life, he had tried to dedicate himself to the Lord’s work, too. Running out of tuition money after one year at a Dallas Bible college led him to secular work in the oil industry, where he stayed until returning to Pennsylvania in 1993.
Carrie could be very good for him, he thought. But he didn’t want to start anything new until after the holidays. In January 2011, he invited her to the Olive Garden, which led to a second date — a Christian concert. From then on, they were together.
David felt blessed to spend time with Carrie. “She was always willing to go out with me. Every weekend, we were together.”
Carrie felt blessed, too. “We had so much fun, and we laughed a lot,” she said. “He’s a person of integrity, and he’s polite in an old-school kind of way. He opens car doors.”
It sure felt like everything was great, but Carrie, who had dated for decades without finding the life partner she wanted, did not completely trust her judgment. After seeking counsel from her pastor, she asked her new beau a question: “Are you interested in a long-term relationship that leads to marriage?”
That, David remembers, was intimidating. He had also dated throughout his life and always wanted to marry, but never had. He thinks he knows why: “I was selfish. I would make decisions based on what I wanted, not on what was best for the relationship,” he said. “I wanted things to be different with Carrie.”
It was his turn to pray. “I asked the Lord to either bless this relationship or make it fall if it was not His will,” he said.
The two went bird-watching together — one of David’s passions. He was her plus-one to events held by her mission, Wycliffe Bible Translators. She loved that he got along so well with everyone there.
The more they talked, the more coincidences they unearthed:
When Carrie worked for a relative in Washington, to help pay off college debt, she lived about 15 miles from David, who then tended plants at a Maryland nursery.
When he was attending Christ for the Nations Bible College in Dallas, she was working toward her master’s in linguistics at the University of Texas. She and her then-boyfriend attended services at Christ for the Nations, and David was almost assuredly there.
Most surprising, before he began moving around the country and she went to the other side of the globe, they had spent three simultaneous years at Penncrest High School — she’s Class of 1969, he’s Class of 1970 — without ever knowing the other existed.
It was worth the work it took to keep things from going the way of their previous relationships, both say. Carrie now realizes some of the past failures were due to her own self-doubt, leading her to mistrust the other person. Early on, that doubt reared up with David, too. “I would think, ‘This guy is going to reject me tomorrow. I better protect myself,’ ” she remembered.
Both say their faith in God and strong belief that He brought them together made them determined to work things out.
Ten months after their first date, David took Carrie to Longwood Gardens — where, right after high school, he had completed a two-year gardening course. They walked and walked until he found a special place with no other souls present, and he asked her to marry him.
“I thought getting married at age 60 would be a rough transition, but Dave is so kind,” Carrie said. “I figure that’s why it’s been really easy to get used to him.”
The couple are now both 68 and retired, and are usually busier than ever with volunteer work at their church, Risen Hope Church in Drexel Hill, the Media Food Bank, and the Philadelphia Bible Society. Dave has also begun training that will allow him to help out at Swarthmore College’s Scott Arboretum.
They have been using the break forced by COVID-19 to reconnect with friends and family — including the friend who introduced them — by phone and by Zoom.
In April, Carrie and David celebrated their eighth anniversary at their Springfield, Delaware County, home. “We don’t care, so long as we are with each other,” David said. When social distancing ends, they look forward to being together in Key West.