“Everybody else got it, and then when you look at everybody and you see they look so happy, and then you wonder, what is it about me? Why?” Parker said on the Today show.
Around 1997, things became different when she went to her high school reunion and linked up with Allen Green. They were not that close while in high school, and Green, a divorcee, had tried asking Parker out about a year before they met again at the Scottville High School reunion.
“He comes to me he goes, ‘Miss Parker, I’m not gonna let you get away this time this easy.’ I never anticipated it going any further,” Parker recalled on the Today show. Parker and Green started dating but then what no one expected happened when Green was diagnosed with colon cancer in November 2002.
“I told him that if he couldn’t handle it, I would understand and not hold it against him if he felt he needed to leave,” she said. But Green was with her through it all. And then some years after she was free of colon cancer, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy. She had 18 lymph nodes removed and due to her condition, she had to go and live with her younger sister. Still, Green never left her side.
“I could not bathe myself for a period of time,” Parker said. “You had to bathe me because I had tubes all over. And then I couldn’t lay in the bed. I had to sit up in a chair.”
With all these going on, Parker put aside the thought of even getting married. But when she was done with her treatments for breast cancer, she once again started thinking about tying the knot one day. “When a person gets married, to me, the two of you are telling everybody, ‘This is mine, this is mine’. And I had never felt that.”
Ahead of her 73rd birthday last year, Green asked her what she wanted for her birthday. Parker just said, “Wow me.” And that’s exactly what 75-year-old Green, a blackjack dealer at Harrah’s in New Orleans, did. On March 27, 2021, on Parker’s birthday, he got down on one knee and brought out a ring, asking her to marry him in the presence of her family. She said yes and had an amazing wedding that a 20- or 30-year-old bride would have gotten, she said.
“My favorite part was when I was walking down the aisle, and I saw [Allen] standing there waiting for me,” Parker was quoted by PEOPLE.
Parker got married for the first time at 73 and has no regrets about how her life has been as she “got to learn to love me for me” while single. The 74-year-old now hopes that her story will inspire others that it is never too late to find true love.
“Keep your hands open, keep your heart opened. And somehow, some way, whatever it is that you desired, it will come. But don’t expect it to come the way you think it’s supposed to come. And above all, never, never give up in spite of the challenges,” she said.