When Judy met Earl, she was happy to have found such a good friend. She never thought the pair would be tying the knot in front of friends and family on Valentine’s Day at the PineCrest Independent Living Facility chapel.

On Monday, Judy Scibetta and Earl Parker were busy preparing for their big day — arranging for friends and family to be picked up from the airport, planning the rehearsal and following dinner, securing the perfect decorations.

But all the while, their eyes were on one another. Their conversation was accented with laughter and longing glances, and it spread to their fellow residents.

One friend joked that he was happy for the couple, but how could Earl steal his woman?

Earl came to PineCrest to bring his wife of 55 years to an Alzheimer’s unit in 2015. After she passed away in 2016, he decided to stay at the nonprofit retirement facility because he enjoyed it.

Judy came to PineCrest after the death of her husband of 40-plus years to spend the last chapter of her life in Lufkin, Texas, where her beloved aunt and uncle came to live years ago.

The tale began when Judy was looking for someone to care for her cats, Flash and Missy. She asked Earl because he was able on his feet.

“He said he’d think about it,” Judy said. “The next day he said he would, but I had already asked my neighbors across the street.”

But the spark was planted. Earl asked Judy to attend his church’s annual fundraiser gala. Judy agreed but made it clear that she wasn’t interested in a romantic relationship.

They said the gala went very well, and Earl later asked Judy to a concert in Houston. However, he ended up falling and was unable to attend, but he told Judy he wanted her to go on without him.

“I felt bad about his six-week time in rehab, so I visited him weekly after the knee surgery,” Judy said. “I also placed his name with the Cloistered Dominican Nuns in Lufkin to pray for him.”

As they spent more time together, something began to change. They spoke regularly and enjoyed traveling together.

“When I got to know him, he really is such a wonderful guy,” Judy said. “If you ask anybody who lives here, they would agree. He is so generous, so kind, so sweet. I began seeing all that.”

When Earl went on his annual fishing trip with his sons, they emailed constantly until Judy sent one message that changed everything: “I think I’m falling in love with you.”

“I told her from the beginning she needed to show interest in me, and then I would follow and we would work out what was to be,” Earl said. “Little did we know it was going to go so fast.”

Earl said he loves spending time with Judy, and he loves that she is so active and has a relationship with God.

Earl proposed on Sept. 8, 2019, with what Judy called “a beautiful card with a handwritten message that was very romantic.” Earl said Judy decided on Feb. 14, and “that was certainly agreeable to me.”

The engagement was announced on the PineCrest TV announcement slides, and they printed out copies of their love story to share with the other residents.

After the wedding, the couple will fly to Holland to visit the fields of millions of tulips together, and they will return to combine their lives in a newer, bigger home at the facility.

At the end of their written love story, the couple wrote one simple request of the reader:

“Please pray for us that our love continues to grow for each other and for the Lord. We hope this new chapter in our lives will be a long one.”

Grace Juarez’s email address is grace.juarez@lufkindailynews.com.