Similar paths, missed chances


Susie Breaux and Mike McShea might have met through their mothers, who both attended the same small Catholic women's college at the same time, many years ago. But their mothers didn't know each other then.

The couple could have met when she was 8 and he was 9 and their families each spent the summer at the Beachcomber Hotel in Avalon, N.J. Both families stayed in the hotel for a number of summers after that, but Susie and Mike's paths never crossed.

Of course, Susie and Mike might also have noticed each other while dining at Schaefer's Canal House in Chesapeake City numerous times over the last 25 years. Susie's family often celebrated "very special occasions" at the waterfront restaurant, she says. And Mike's family "always" gathered for at least one meal at the Canal House when the whole clan was visiting his grandparents at their house by the Chesapeake Bay.

But fate didn't see fit to bring Susie, 33, and Mike, 34, together until 1996. On New Year's Day, to be exact. And though some people think the hand of destiny is shrouded in mystery and shadow, Susie and Mike knew the hand that helped them along very well.

Maryam McShea has been Susie's friend since high school. She's also married to Mike's cousin Patrick. Despite her role in both their lives, Susie and Mike had never met.

But after hearing Mike describe his "ideal woman" at a Christmas party in 1995 - "she must have dazzling eyes, intelligence, wit and a sense of humor, values, political ideology ..." - Maryam said, "That's my friend, Susie!" and decided then and there to try to bring the two singles together.

Maryam invited Mike to her family's New Year's Day party, which Susie already planned to attend. She only casually mentioned Mike to Susie, however, since two previous attempts to set Susie up had failed after Susie decided the chemistry wasn't right.

This time, "there was an instant level of comfort," Susie says with a smile as she sits with Mike in the living room of her Baltimore condominium just three days before their wedding.

"I felt immediately that I had known Susie for all of my life," Mike says.

Even with such strong feelings, Susie and Mike remained cautious about giving their hearts. Both had seen other long-term relationships fail. And Mike, a project manager for Citicorp International Communications Inc. in Silver Spring, was at that time interviewing for jobs across the country. Susie, who earned a bachelor's degree at the College of Notre Dame and is director of public relations for her alma mater, had roots very firmly placed in Baltimore.

Fate stepped in once more - Mike got a good job offer here. And the rest of their lives quickly fell into place.

On May 30, the couple were married at St. Joan of Arc Roman Catholic Church in Aberdeen by Monsignor James Cronin, who, coincidentally, has known both their families for years.

With sunlight dancing across the water and the sky a glorious blue, Susie and Mike, their parents, Harold and Priscilla Breaux of Aberdeen, and Michael and Peg McShea of Mount Laurel, N.J., other family members and friends gathered for the reception at Schaefer's Canal House.

And fate and Maryam McShea and everyone else who knows Susie and Mike's story shared a private laugh as the couple glided onto the floor for their first dance - "It Had to Be You."

Pub Date: 6/07/98

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