ST. PETERSBURG — As vice president of learning at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Megan Graham Grove is in charge of all training and development for the three-hospital pediatric system. Hers is a broad skill set that includes clinical and physician education, staff and leadership development, and succession planning. She also oversees volunteer services in which an army of people donate their time interacting with patients, working in the gift shops and helping with other events.
Suffice it to say that she is focused. And until about a year and a half ago, unlike millions of other people around the world, she rarely used Facebook.
"My friends gave me a really hard time," she says now. "They said, 'It's time.' "
Megan signed in to the popular social network, hoping to reconnect with friends from her alma mater, Northeast High School. TJ Grove's page popped up. He too was a Northeast graduate. In high school, she had had a bit of a crush on him, but "TJ is two years older than me and hung out with my older brother," she says. "Nothing ever came of that."
Nearly two decades later, in December 2011, they became Facebook friends. He posted something she found amusing. After back-and-forth banter on Facebook that day, he called her from St. Petersburg, and they talked by phone on several consecutive evenings.
Megan mentioned her sadness at the death of her great-aunt Carmelita.
"Four days after we reconnected, he, on his own initiative, got in the car and drove to Atlanta. It was just an absolutely wonderful surprise. And after he got here, it was so clear he was 'the one.' "
TJ remembers the drive to Atlanta. "I have never been so nervous in my life," he says. "But as soon as I saw her standing on the porch, my heart calmed, and I knew this would be something special."
TJ, now 44, is a U.S. Air Force veteran and longtime wholesale parts distributor for Lokey Mercedes-Benz in Clearwater. Megan, now 42, had been in Atlanta for a number of years. Neither had ever married.
"We started to do the travel thing," Megan says, "and we reached AirTran Elite status pretty quickly."
In September, on a trip to Maui with several other couples, everybody got up at 2 a.m. to reach Haleakala's 10,000-foot summit before sunrise.
"We get there about 4," Megan says. "We're freezing. It's pitch black. The beauty is unimaginable as the sun comes up from under the clouds. Every 10 seconds there was a new vision of beauty that took your breath away. It was so gorgeous. To share that with TJ was incredible."
TJ proposed on Maui's highest peak, and Megan said yes. Their travel companions were in on the secret, and everyone hugged and cheered.
On April 20, with brothers and sisters and nieces and nephew and friends in their wedding party, they married at her longtime family parish, St. Raphael Catholic Church, where the priest, the Rev. Dominic Corona, got down on one knee at the altar to re-enact TJ's proposal in Hawaii.
"We've kind of proved old dogs can learn new tricks," Megan says with a laugh. "The really fun thing was taking the leap of faith we did, after all these years of being single. Two years ago, we didn't even know each other, and to move along so quickly to a wedding was an unexpected, happy turn in life. We're already in a routine. We love having each other underfoot. We have date night every week. We are so happy and grateful every day."
And since TJ was hired at the Mercedes dealer Atlanta Classic Cars, they're in the same city.