Fate handed her the best 'change' of her life

Jessica Grav and Robert McNeil of Cloverdale are hoping to win a $10,000 wedding contest presented by - Contributed
Jessica Grav and Robert McNeil of Cloverdale are hoping to win a $10,000 wedding contest presented by
— image credit: Contributed

It’s a story Jessica Grav, 28, loves to tell.

Three years ago, after a long day at school, the young single mom took her kids and best friend Kayla to the Dairy Queen in Port Coquitlam for an ice cream treat.

“She did a lot of babysitting for me, and it was a treat day. As funny as it sounds, it was a big deal to go to Dairy Queen,” says Grav, who at the time was studying to be a care aid and community support worker, forcing her to watch every penny. But she’d just cleaned somebody’s house to make a bit of extra money, and she had been paid in cash.

When she paid for the ice cream, she handed the clerk a $20 and received $7 in change – a $5 bill and some coins.

Something about the bill caught her eye. She looked closer. There was a man’s name – “Rob” – and telephone number written on it.

Grav was impressed by the penmanship and overcome by curiosity. What kind of a guy would write his name and number on a $5 bill? She wondered.

That’s when she was seized by an inexplicable impulse. “Text him!” she urged her friend.

But Kayla was adamant – no way did she want to text a complete stranger.

“Oh, come on!” pleaded Grav, who had left her own cell phone at home. “What’s the worst that could happen?”

Somehow, Grav managed to convince her pal it would be fun to see if some “crazy old man” would reply.

So she commandeered her friend’s phone and sent a message. “Hey, I found your $5 bill,” she wrote.

Five agonizing minutes later, the phone rang. “Hello?” she answered, feeling giddy and nervous.

Cloverdale’s Rob McNeil was on the line. “Hey, I got your text message,” came the reply. “Do you always text people’s numbers off of $5 bills?”

Laughing, Grav countered with a question of her own: “Do you always write your name and phone number on $5 bills?”

It turned out McNeil’s friend had written on the bill during a fundraiser, as a kind of memo.

They ended the call with laughter, and Grav handed the phone back to her friend.

But it didn’t end there. McNeil, was soon texting back. They exchanged phone numbers.

Meanwhile, the pair kept in touch over the phone, and finally exchanged photos about a month later.

For awhile, Grav didn’t hear from McNeil. She figured he was no longer interested.

“I was like, forget it! I actually deleted him off my phone.”

Resigned, she eventually spent the $5 note while on a short vacation with her kids, leaving her cell phone at home to avoid roaming charges.

When she got back home, she was surprised when McNeil got in touch with her again, wondering why he hadn’t heard from her in awhile.

It had been a misunderstanding – he’d just gotten busy at work – and he was still interested.

McNeil persuaded her to meet him for  a date at the Clydesdale Inn, for karaoke night – a long bus ride for Grav. They hit it off.

“We talked for about two months before we finally met,” says Grav, “but once we did I knew he would be my ‘forever’.”

They have since joined homes and families – her children, 8, and 7, call him “dad” and they now have a one-year-old baby girl.

If this story were a movie, this would be the point where the soundtrack would play the Wedding March.

They’ve talked about marriage, but Grav says the financial burden of a wedding make the dream out of reach for now.

Their daughter was born premature, weighing just over one pound, and spent six months at Royal Columbian Hospital on a ventillator while her parents anxiously put their work commitments on hold to be at her side.

“So right now we do the best we can with what we have,” says Grav. “Just never extras.”

That’s why they’ve entered a contest presented by

Contestants who get the most “likes” for sharing their story on  the Vancouver-based wedding and events planning company’s Facebook page will win $10,000 plus extras for a dream wedding.

The draw is Feb. 1.

Win, lose or draw, Grav says it was fate that gave her the “best change” of her life.

“By some miracle that bill ended up in my hands in Port Coquitlam,” says Grav, who adds she and her beau like to joke that if they ever break up, neither one will call another name and number written on a $5 bill – it will have to be a $100 bill at least.

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