“These things never work out,” Mary Lynn Soli, 39, told her sister in January 1997.
To please a mutual friend, Mary Lynn had agreed to attend a dinner party and meet Kamal Mikhail, 52 and a widower. Kamal, too, had reluctantly consented to the meeting: He was enjoying single life and wasn’t looking for a steady relationship.
Kamal: “I liked her looks, but I tried to persuade her I wasn’t a very good person.”
Mary Lynn: “I thought he was interesting, intense and intriguing.”
The unfolding: Mary Lynn ran a candle company when they met, and Kamal wanted his boss to see her products. When Mary Lynn brought samples to his office, Kamal asked her to lunch.
The next weekend, he took her to dinner. Within three months, he had asked her to marry him.
But in Kamal’s Egyptian culture, his request meant, “I want you off the market; I want to marry you if everything works out.”
After they had dated for 14 months without setting a wedding date, Mary Lynn considered calling off the relationship. But Kamal was truly in love with her, and they were wed in Kansas City on Sept. 5, 1998.
Challenges: Months after the couple married, Mary Lynn’s sister died and her two children, ages 17 and 20, came to live with them. Her’s sister’s family blended with Mary Lynn’s two younger children, still living at home, and Kamal’s two grown children.
A year later Kamal was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a terminal heart disease. They concentrated on making the most of life, despite the shadow of the diagnosis. But in the spring of 2012, Kamal went into heart failure and was dying. However, he received a heart transplant just in time.
Shared activities: They believe in giving back to the community and are serving as co-chairs of the American Heart Association’s 2015 Heart and Stroke Ball. The event is Saturday at the Kansas City Convention Center.
Careers and family: Mary Lynn is president of Soli Printing and Kamal is the chief executive officer. Kamal also has had a long career in the construction business and currently serves as vice chairman with Continental Steel Fabrication and Lawson Steel Erection.
They live in Leawood and have six children, four grandchildren and two grandchildren on the way.
What keeps their relationship strong: Integrity and loyalty are vital to both of them. They have a deep faith and believe God brought them together for a reason.
The qualities they most appreciate in each other:
Mary Lynn: “Kamal is determined, reliable, honest and generous. He makes me feel loved.”
Kamal: “Mary Lynn is a loving mother and a good person. For me, she’s the ideal wife and friend.”
Deborah Shouse is a freelance writer. Suggest a Love Story couple by writing to email@example.com.