ASH FLAT, AR (KAIT) – Love has a tendency to find people when they least expect it.
For Becky and Greg Foreman, they found each other and fell in love after going through separate tragedies in their lives.
The Foremans say they have finally reached what they consider to be their 'happily ever after,' but getting there was no fairy tale.
"The good Lord helped me a whole bunch," Greg said, "or I wouldn't be here today."
Greg has taught at the Sloan-Hendrix School District in Imboden for 17 years now. What happened to him 14 years ago rarely comes up anymore.
On January 16, 1999, Greg was driving back to the school to cancel some basketball games because of the weather when an elderly woman drove over some black ice and plowed head-on into his truck.
"It could have happened to anybody," Greg said. "I hold no responsibility on her shoulders because I was just lucky to be alive."
Following the wreck, Greg was flown to The MED in Memphis, where he stayed in a coma for 52 days.
"I hurt my seventh cranial nerve, and they weren't sure if I would ever be able to walk again, didn't know if I could talk again," he said. "I had to learn to eat, had to learn to drink, had to learn to swallow again. I knew how to do none of that."
What motivated him to overcome all those obstacles were his two daughters, Kali and Kassie, and his coaching job at Sloan-Hendrix.
"[The doctors] said you've got a 10 percent chance of ever going back to a 'college degree'd' job," he said. "I said well, I'm part of that of that 10 percent because I'm going back to coaching."
Checking on his progress from a distance was a teacher named Becky Oliver and her husband, Chad.
"Chad and Greg played on the same intramural teams together some while we were in college [at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro]," Becky said.
"Chad [also] worked with a friend of Greg's," she said, "so he would kind of keep him posted on how Greg was doing and what accomplishments he had made and different things like that."
At the time, Becky taught first grade at Cherokee Village Elementary School, and lived in Ash Flat with her husband and two young children, Camillia and Payton.
On August 25, 2003, the Oliver family's life changed forever.
"I always think of life as being like steps," Becky said. "The way I usually put it, one of my steps was broken."
That day, Becky and Chad dropped off Payton at his grandparents' house and then headed to Jonesboro with Camillia for an after-school shopping trip. When the family got to Portia, they were in a terrible wreck.
"I've never ever desired to know what happened," Becky said. "I just thought if God needed me to remember what happened, He would have had me remember, and I do not remember at all."
Becky survived the accident "barely," in her words, but Chad and Camillia did not.
"I lost two of my family members," Becky said. "In my opinion, it's because they were in so much pain that God took them to be with Him."
Becky was taken to The MED in Memphis following her accident to seek treatment for approximately 20 broken bones, three skin graft surgeries and internal damage to her spleen and liver.
Three weeks passed before she finally began showing signs of comprehension. That's when she says her mother and sister-in-law, Karen, told her that her 35-year-old husband and nine-year-old daughter had died.
"Karen said, 'But Becky, you've got a son at home, and he has a peace about himself,'" Becky said. "Payton knew where his dad and his sister were, so he wasn't concerned about them. His concern was about me."
Becky says she resolved then to fight to get well for her son, Payton.
"I've told Payton, I said you know I breathe every breath for Payton, and that's the only reason I needed at that time."
Focusing on her son seemed to speed along her recovery. She left the hospital after exactly one month, but eight surgeries followed as well as countless sessions of therapy.
"I did overcome a lot, but I overcame a lot with help," she said. "Anytime anybody will say you've just done so well. I'll say well, I've had a lot of help."
In the midst of her recovery, Becky ran into a few problems with her disability insurance that she had taken out through school and wondered if Greg might have experienced some of the same issues. She called him one day to see if he could help, and they decided to meet at her son's tee ball game.
"After the tee ball game, we went to eat," she said. "Payton begged to go with us and I wouldn't let him, but I wouldn't let him because I thought we were going to talk insurance. This was going to be business."
Instead, their dinner ended up being their first date.
"We kind of have a big joke," Becky said. "Greg's injuries were from the neck up primarily, and mine were from the neck down so that's why we go together so well."
Greg had divorced a few years after his accident and had decided at that time to concentrate solely on his job. His mother had stayed after him, asking him when he would meet someone again.
"When [my mom] saw Becky, she said I believe you've met your match now," Greg said.
The two dated a year before getting married.
"We're able to encourage each other and just support one another," Becky said. "For a little while there before I had my hip replacement surgery, I had quite a limp to my walk. My sister would say we just kind of hold each other up. She says, 'You two just hold each other up,' and so that's what we've just continued to do."
Both now work at Sloan-Hendrix. Greg teaches health and career orientation classes there now, while Becky serves as a literacy specialist.
They have tried to value all the time they spend together at work and at home because unlike most, they understand nothing is permanent.
"I think our attitude is that we can handle it from here," Becky said. "I mean with God's help definitely.
"We know that there have been people through a lot more than us," she added, "but we hope if anything, we can encourage them."
The Foremans will celebrate eight years of marriage on May 21, so they hope they've got many more years of health and happiness left.