Three decades later, the face he painted became his wife

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The first time Diana Martin saw Hector Garcia was in 1985 through a window of her family home in Pereira, Colombia, where she saw a boy she did not recognize riding a bicycle. in front of their house. She was 11 and had heard from friends that a teenage artist who lived several streets away had painted her portrait.

“Naturally, I wanted to meet this boy and find out why he painted my face,” said Ms. Martin, 47, a social worker with the Agency for the Disabled in Deltona, Florida.

Mr Garcia, 51, an interior designer and real estate investor in Deltona, was 16 when he saw her riding his bike outside his house. “I could see in her face that she had a beautiful soul,” he said. “I had to paint her face to remember her beauty.”

After meeting through mutual friends, they saw each other regularly, watched TV and chatted for hours at her house. Other days they would accompany his family to one of the farms owned by his father.

“I didn’t understand why Hector loved me because he was older, serious and calm, while I was bubbly, chatty and romantic,” Ms. Martin said. “I was also taller and fatter. He never said, “I love you or I love you,” but he paid attention to me and did things like explain American music and videos. “

When their lives took different paths, she said, they eventually lost touch.

Ms. Martin earned an associate’s degree in computer programming from the American Business School in Pereira, then began working at a local bank. But it was short-lived. “The bank was robbed in 1992, and my brother was kidnapped in 1981 (he was made safe), so I decided to leave the turmoil in Colombia and pursue the American dream in Miami,” he said. declared Ms. Martin who left Colombia in 1992. “I later tried to find Hector but without success. “

In 2001, Mr. Garcia moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, also to escape the political turmoil in Colombia. Married with a family at that time, he learned English and held various jobs before succeeding as a residential interior painter, where he also provided renovation services.

Around this time, Ms. Martin moved from Miami to Deltona where she eventually married and received a BS in Social Sciences from Daytona State College in 2005. (She divorced in 2014.) When her mother died of cancer in 2019, Mr. Garcia heard the news from a family friend and wanted to comfort her. “So many memories came to my mind that I decided to look for Diana,” Garcia said.

Thanks to Ms Martin’s brother, he found her on Facebook on June 5, 2019 and they talked for hours on the phone. “I was so surprised to hear from Hector,” she said. “He has become a great support for me during this difficult time of grieving. I was comforted by his huge heart.

After a year of long-distance discussions about love, religion, politics, work and life in general, Mr Garcia, who has two older children, has decided to end his “broken marriage” and to end his marriage. visit Mrs. Martin in Florida where other members of her family lived.

“I was proud of the man he had become and wanted a relationship, but I told him not to come until he got a divorce,” Ms. Martin said. “We stopped talking for several months.

Once divorced, he kept his promise, and last November they went to dinner at a Red Lobster in Altamonte Springs, near Orlando. “My heart jumped when I saw it,” she said.

“Everything came to mind from the past which made the evening very moving,” said Mr. Garcia. “I loved her and asked her to marry me, but she said no because she needed time. I knew I would try again.

That moment came on past Valentine’s Day when Mr. Garcia fell to his knees at a local Olive Garden restaurant. “I said ‘yes’ before he had time to propose,” Ms. Martin said.

On June 5, two years after reconnecting, they tied the knot by the ocean in New Smyrna Beach. Sandy Gorney of Paradise Beach Weddings, ordered by the U.S. Marriage Departments, married them in front of 21 guests seated in white chairs wrapped in burlap bows. The hour-long ceremony in Spanish and English was also broadcast live.

For the reception at the nearby Riverview Hotel and Spa, guests were seated at a long table for champagne and dinner, followed by a chocolate and vanilla wedding cake.

“Love is more than romance,” Ms. Martin said. “It’s about being there for better or for worse. He’s the closest to perfect person I’ve ever known.


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