Caitlin and Greg knew each other in junior high, became friends in high school and dated in college, but then life intervened.
They lost contact. Each married, moved to other states, had two children and, eventually, divorced.
If you believe in the words of the old song that "love is lovelier the second time around," fast forward to last Thanksgiving night in Omaha and the annual downtown Holiday Lights Festival. Thousands gathered in and around Gene Leahy Mall, waiting for the big moment — the lighting of the million lights that seem to twinkle in the trees for several blocks along both sides of the lagoon.
There was a countdown. And in the instant that the lights illuminated the outdoor scene and the crowd cheered, another big moment occurred. Greg Siler asked Dr. Caitlin Foxley to marry him, and she readily agreed.
Having re-met through mutual friends online 2˝ years ago, the couple emailed and spoke by phone for months before they had an actual date on Jan. 5, 2010. Today they observe Valentine's Day and look forward to an Oct. 27 wedding.
But it might not have happened, because last year Greg became very sick — tumors in his colon.
"It was actually very scary," Dr. Foxley said. "I was worried and knew all the bad possible outcomes. I didn't tell Greg how bad it could be until after the surgery."
Greg lives in Memphis, Tenn., and travels to Asia six or seven times a year for his business, providing furniture to colleges, hotels, motels and other institutions. He describes his work this way: "A friend asked if I could get him a deal on a sofa. I said no, but I could get him a deal on 300 sofas."
Last year on a flight to Vietnam, Greg realized he was passing blood. Back home in Memphis, he had tests that turned up two tumors. Only then did he tell Caitlin.
"She just took over and said 'You're coming to Omaha for treatment,' " Greg recalled. "I went straight up there, and she organized everything."
Dr. Foxley works at the Nebraska Medical Center, where surgeons removed his large intestine. Fortunately, the cancer had not spread.
"Greg had the good sense to see a doctor (in Memphis) as soon as he had symptoms," she said, "which a lot of men don't do. They tend to ignore things."
Memphis has good hospitals, she said, but she wanted to line up fellow physicians that she knew.
"I insisted that he come here for surgery," she said. "We hands-on people like to take charge, like to be in control."
Greg spent a week in the hospital, has recovered well and is cancer-free.
The couple grew up in Fort Collins, Colo., where she was Caitlin Blanton. She married, moved to Omaha and worked as program director for health education at the American Heart Association.
At 29 she entered the University of Nebraska College of Medicine. Today, at 46, she is board certified in internal medicine and is a "hospitalist," working full time at the hospital coordinating patients' care.
She plays the flute and sings, and she has performed onstage in the Metro Omaha Medical Society's humorous Medical Mess Club shows. Her daughters are 18 and 14.
Greg, who turned 47 on Monday, has sons 13 and 11. He designed Caitlin's engagement ring to reflect the future blending of their lives and families — two gold bars twisted and looped, with two pairs of gold wires to symbolize their children.
The couple are deciding where they will live, but will marry on a beach in the Florida Panhandle.
Alas, their two-city schedules will keep them apart on Valentine's Day. "I'll be working," Greg said, "but my heart is with Cait."
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