As has been customary for many years, the widows of Capri Christian Church and their guests from neighboring areas are invited to get together once a month over lunch as a means of providing some much-needed support and fellowship after finding themselves without a partner.

Losing one's spouse is never an easy matter, and sharing conversation and lunch with those "in the same boat," helps, so the widows say. Jackie Nettles, also a widow, coordinates the monthly luncheon for the church.

Recently, 24 widows set sail with their boat captains for a ride in the bays of Capri, down the Marco River, and finally into the waterways behind The Esplanade on Marco Island prior to their monthly luncheon.

No, they were not on the three ships, Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria, but instead on varying sizes of smaller watercraft (pontoons and a deck boat). Boat captains Bob Ditton, Dale Williamson, and Eddie Hall gave the ladies a guided tour as their three boats trailed one another throughout the voyage.

At one point, the seas became a bit rough, and it was as if a small tsunami hit the boats and came over the sides.

"I think I taste salt," said one of the women. She was right as a bit of the sea water splashed her in the face. Not the rough seas Christopher Columbus sailed, but for these passengers, just as exciting!

The boat cruise came to an end at the dock behind Pelican Bend Restaurant on Capri where all unloaded and gathered around their table for lunch. A topic of conversation during the luncheon was a true story that resembled that of the famous folktale or fable, Cinderella. It goes like this.

Once upon a time, a widower came to Pastor Ayers and said he was having an extremely hard time moving on with his life after the loss of his wife nearly two years ago. "Come join me at the Widow's Luncheon," Ayers offered the widower. "Isn't that just for women?" answered the widower. "Well, I am not a woman, and I am going," replied Ayers.

Richard Tull, the widower, consented to accompany Ayers to the luncheon that just happened to be scheduled for Pelican Bend Restaurant that month.

When they were seated, Tull found himself seated next to Helen Howell, a widow for more than eight years. Howell, a Capri resident and member of Capri Christian Church, had been dedicated to attending the widow's luncheons and said that she felt comforted and supported by socializing with others like her who had lost their spouses.

Tull and Howell easily struck up conversation and immediately felt comfortable sharing their stories with one another. After a week passed, Tull asked Ayers if he would call Howell and see if it would be alright for him to call her. The rest of the story is history.

On Feb. 14, Valentine's Day, Ayers married Tull and Howell in a beautiful ceremony held in Capri Christian Church. Although the Tulls missed last month's cruise and luncheon because they were no longer widowed, they are headed for the high seas on an even larger cruise as part of their honeymoon plans.

They will be sailing on an Alaskan cruise ship, enjoying the wonderful new relationship they found at the Capri Christian Church Monthly Widow's Luncheon.

Contact Ann Hall at

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