‘I Couldn’t Believe She Was Here In My Arms.’: 39 Years After Forced Apart Due To Ra-ce, High School Sweethearts Get 2nd Chance At Love


It was love at first sight, for Penny Umbers and Mark Bethel. They knew they were meant to be, the moment their eyes met. But since they were only teenagers, their paths were bound to be star-crossed.

At that time, Penny was only 16 years old, while Mark was 17 years old. Mark was an exchange student from Nassau Bahamas, both of them attended the private school in Nottingham, England. Their love lasted through high school and into college. Then Mark returned to England and accepted his scholarship at London University, while Penny attended a close-by college, so they could continue their romance.

Then suddenly, one day, without any explanation, Mark ended their relationship.

Penny was de-vastated and she left the college and battled with her mental health. Later she married and even has to di-vorce twice, but she never stopped thinking about Mark. 39 years later, Mark found Penny on social media and sent her a message. They again started talking and they felt like the time haven’t pa-ssed at all. Mark was also seperated and when he told the reasons for their b-roken relationship to Penny, her heart b-roke once again.

It was then Penny found that Penny’s father didn’t approve of their relationship, because he was black and Penny was white. First, he took mark aside in high school and said, “You’ve had your fun, now move on, boy.” But when it didn’t work, Penny’s dad went to the university and pulled Mark out of the lecture, threatening him to pull strings, otherwise, his scholarship would be taken away.

Mark said, “I didn’t have much power. I was 3,000 miles from home in a foreign country. I was totally dependent on my scholarship.” Mark was forced to end their relationship, he said, “I had to make the hardest decision of my life and I had to make it in isolation. It was heartb-reaking,”Therefore, after so many years, Mark was determined to track down Penny again, who got away. However, the couple has to wait for another 18 months due to Covid-19 restrictions. Then finally, Penny flew to Nassau to see Mark again.

Mark said, “When we saw each other for the first time, I believe I shed a tear or two. I couldn’t believe she was here in my country in my arms.” Penny is now moving to the Bahamas to get married and the couple decides to pick up right where they left off. Penny’s father now has Alzheimer’s, so she can’t confront him about his b-etrayal all those years ago.

Instead of thinking about the past, the couple is now focusing on their future and has also written a book about their love story named “Thirty-Nine Years in the Wilderness.”Mark said, “We have had 39 lost years but we are looking forward to a really great future,” We’re happy that the couple is again together and they’re moving in the right direction now. Some things are worth waiting for.