The Story of “R” | McGowan Images Blog


The Story of “R”

Many many moons ago, Mack and I were dating, and we were dead broke.

That is absolutely not hyperbole.

The summer in question was 5 years ago. Mack had just graduated from Tarleton and was spending his summer working for the church (ie: working for free). I was working for the state (ie: working for almost free, with less fun).

With very little money to toss around, we spent most of that summer inside the crappy rent-controlled apartment we paid too much for. But even about this, I can’t really complain. We were happy, and some of my most fond memories of Jack’s babyhood took place there.

This was us, taken a few months before that summer. All photos taking during that actual summer involve me looking scruffy, so I’m using this one. 😉


(For the record, I also have some terrible memories that involve crickets breeding in the air ducts and falling down from the ceiling like squirmy black rain. Seriously. NIGHTMARES.)

Anyway, some people from my church took pity on us… we must have looked particularly haggard one Sunday, or something… and told us that anytime we wanted, we could fish in their fully stocked pond and keep whatever we caught. YES!

So we did. Sometimes three times a week, we’d go out as a little family unit and have a blast fishing, then take home our catch, and eat it for dinner. Free fun, and free dinner.

But see, I’m a romantic girl at heart, and all of this really started to get to me. Mack was in a hard position, because we seriously didn’t have the money to go out and do anything. We were scraping for everything we had, and while we were happy, it certainly left a lot to be desired.

One night, I broke down in tears. I begged him, “Please please PLEASE… just leave a flower on my pillow. Write me a love letter. ANYTHING. I’m drowning here!” (I’m not dramatic or anything.)

Mack insisted that he had no idea how to write a love letter that wouldn’t feel corny. He comforted me and told me that someday we’d be able to go out and do things and have more romance in our lives than cleaning fish on the kitchen counter. I dried my tears, and that was the end of it… or so I thought.

The next day, I came home from work to find my apartment had been covered in cutouts, magnets, and decals… all of the letter “R”. There was an “R” stuck to every mirror, every picture frame, every window… even the TV. Different shapes, different sizes, different colors, different fonts. All “R”s.

I was a very very confused girl.

That is, until I found the note taped to the back of the front door.

“My Dearest Chelsea –
I don’t know how to write a love letter. Every time I start something, I stop and laugh at myself, because it doesn’t sound like me, and it won’t mean what I want it to mean.

What I want to say is that I love you with my everything, and I want you to know that every single day of your life, whether I know the right words to use or not.

So I decided that your love letter is going to be “R”. The letter “R” is curvy, and makes fun noises, and… I started to write a “P” and changed my mind. So “R” it is.

Every time you see it, in a story you’re writing at work or on a billboard or in a book you’re reading, I want you to remember that the letter is yours, and it means that I love you.

(Pretty clever, huh?)

Yours always… Mack”

This little inside idea about the letter “R” has continued to follow us throughout the years. It’s quirky and weird, so I guess it’s perfect for us.

When we were discussing creating a huge-o-mongous piece of original artwork to create and hang above our bed in our new room, there was only one idea that felt right to us. We’re going to create a typograpic collage, about 60 inches wide… a huge white canvas covered in different “R”s. And everyone who walks into the bedroom will scratch their head and wonder what the heck the letter means… and we don’t care. It’s us.

See, I didn’t marry a Casanova. I didn’t marry a poet who knows how to string words together and get a fluttery effect every time he wants to. Mack has some amazing strengths and many wonderful qualities, but he is not the swooning romancer that I dreamed about when I was a little girl.

He is better.

He is a man who loves me with his everything, and can say it just like that… in plain English. And he is a man who loves me enough to do something as silly as co-opting an entire letter of the alphabet to make me smile.

I have no specific reason to share this story today. It’s nobody’s birthday, and it’s not our anniversary. Today, I just really love my husband, and wanted to talk about how absolutely incredible he is.

Hey, sweetheart… you’re incredible. I love you with my everything.

R –


  1. Ambo says:

    You guys are amazing, and continue to amaze me everyday! The love you guys share is straight out of romance. I’m so blessed to have you in my life and hopefully one day, some of Mack’s quirky romance will rub off on my husband…lol.
    Love you guys!

  2. Katrina says:

    Aww… Thank you for sharing this with others. I love it!

  3. Nicole says:

    That is the sweetest story ever!!!

  4. Kevin says:

    Awesome story!

  5. Ozzy says:

    Kool..just plain Kool!!

  6. Tiffany says:

    Awww I love this story!! I was in tears by the end of it…so sweet!!

  7. Jennifer says:

    very cool, and congrats for having such a wonderful relationship through the good and bad!

  8. awwww….how sweet!

  9. annie says:

    AWWWWWW!!!!! I can’t believe I never knew about the ‘R’ thing. This is awesome Chels. I love you guys!!

  10. Lyndie says:

    So sweet! Sometimes it the smallest and strangest things that steal our hearts.

  11. Mack says:

    I know I’m supposed to say SOMETHING here. Yesterday, Chelsea told me, “You can look at the blog, but only if promise not to make me cry…” So, of course, I read it, and I cried. I seem to run out of the proper words when I’m SUPPOSED to say something, and I think that’s why R works for us. I’m so glad I found someone who understood what I meant when I said that, and didn’t just blow me off. I love her–with all I have I love her. And sometimes that kind of love ties up your words. I’m deeply honored that you decided to share this, sweetheart. I love you too.

  12. Marissa says:

    GREAT story–and you were rocking that hair color!

  13. Christian Fitzgerald says:

    Oh my goodness, I am sitting on my parents bed, babysitting and crying my eyes out. My nose is bright red and I can not stop smiling. I love how in love you and Mack are. This was a heart touching moment in your history and touched mine tonight! Thank you for telling, it means so much!

    P.S. The picture is so raw and beautiful! I absolutely love it! It is my unprofessional opinion that you should have a HUGE canvas made and hung on your wall!!!

  14. Mary Marantz says:

    I LOVE it! LOOOOOOOVE it!! It is amazing. It is inspiring. It is you. And for all the reasons I love you guys, I love this story. You are both so un-ordinary it makes my heart full enough to burst.

    With so much love!

  15. Julie says:

    This is the Sweetest story!!!!!!! Thank you so much for sharing it with us!!
    You two share something magical and it’s nice to know that “RomANcE” is still alive and strong!! I love a love story!!

  16. Julie says:

    It’s me again..I just read some comments and realized my sweet girl left you a comment as well. We are sitting on the bed in a hotel four hours from home. As I read your story, I was thinking what a great testimony your story is to young loves..such as my kids. I was wishing Christian could read this because it was so sweet!! It was so neat to see she already had been here to read it and loved it. True love is a true blessing, I was blessed to have found it and she was too, I like reading that you and Mack have it too!! Again……I will say, I’m so happy we are so lucky to have met and made friends with y’all!!

  17. Misty says:

    I really have no words for how sweet that is…R, indeed!!! The love you and Mack share, not to mention the amazing work that you do together, is an inspiration to us all!!! (And I just LOVE that pic of you three!!!)

  18. Brandi says:

    This is seriously the sweetest ever. Such a clever and unique idea! You guys are seriously the most adorable ever.

  19. Cara says:

    Don’t mind me while I sob sweet tears at my desk. OH MY GOSH, you guys are sweet!

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