Beverly McCray and Catherine Cook worked together at the U.S. post office on Fayette Street in downtown Baltimore for 27 years. The two women, now retired, forged a friendship and shared many stories about their children. The devoted mothers took turns showing school and holiday photographs, and each complimented the other's children on their looks as well as their achievements.
Years later, two of the children in those photos met and fell in love -- and no thanks to their mothers.
In Beverly and Catherine's defense, they were always too busy to socialize outside the workplace. They lived on opposite sides of Baltimore -- Beverly in Northeast and Catherine in Northwest. With family and church obligations, they never had the time to get together. So the children, who were the subject of so many conversations, were never introduced to one another.
But in 1995, Beverly's son Anthony Torrence met Catherine's daughter Jamaine Powell at work. Anthony and Jamaine were employees of the same security company assigned to the Social Security Administration offices in Woodlawn.
Jamaine noticed Anthony's last name on his badge and asked if he was related to some other Torrences she knew. It turned out one of Anthony's cousins had been one of Jamaine's clients when she worked at an insurance company.
Like their mothers, Anthony and Jamaine became work acquaintances. They would chat when they had the opportunity and even switched shifts once or twice.
Within six months, friendship had progressed to dating.
"After that, it's all a blur," jokes Anthony, referring to the couple's courtship, which continued for more than five years.
At some point, Anthony, 36, brought Jamaine home to meet his mother. Beverly realized immediately it was her old friend Catherine's daughter, and she was pleased. Beverly felt as if she already knew Jamaine.
"She knew every Easter dress Jamaine ever got," Anthony says.
Catherine took comfort in the news as well. Like so many mothers, Catherine hoped Jamaine would meet the right man and fall in love.
Jamaine, still single at 33, wasn't worried. "I was waiting for the man that I knew God had prepared for me," she says. "I had faith that he would come."
Anthony and Jamaine continued to date. Though they never discussed marriage, it was on both their minds. But for years, the timing wasn't right. "There was a point where I was ready and she wasn't," says Anthony. "And then she was ready and I wasn't."
Last May, however, the timing was perfect. Anthony and Jamaine were happy in their lives and secure in their careers. They were ready for the next step. So Anthony got in touch with Jamaine's father and asked for his blessing. And on May 20, 2000--- Jamaine's 37th birthday -- Anthony proposed.
Jamaine cried, then she called her mom. Finally, after a little good-natured prodding from Anthony, Jamaine remembered to answer, "Yes."
The couple married May 4 at Greater Bethlehem Temple Apostolic Church in Randallstown. During the ceremony, a cord was draped around them by their mothers. Anthony's father, Thaddeus Torrence of Bowie, and Jamaine's father, James Powell of Columbia, then cut the cord. The rite symbolized the biblical teaching about marriage, in which children leave their families and cleave to their spouses. Also during the ceremony, Jamaine surprised Anthony by singing to him.
Anthony is a central-office technician for the data-services division at Verizon in Washington. Jamaine, 38, works for Wackenhut Security (the firm where she and Anthony worked when they met). She is still assigned to the Social Security Administration in Woodlawn.
After a reception at La Fontaine Bleu, the newlyweds honeymooned in Mexico. They recently settled on a new home in Pikesville, and now they are choosing a church to attend.
As for Beverly and Catherine, once again they're having a great time talking about their children.