June 12, 2014 at 12:14 PM ET
When Alice Totah fell in love with her future husband at first sight, she began a series of events that also brought two friends together for the first time in half a century.
The romance and the reunion it sparked are part of the book "When God Winks" by Squire Rushnell, which details coincidences so remarkable that the author attributes them to a supernatural source. Alice and her husband, Jack Totah, spoke to TODAY Thursday about how just such a "God wink" brought two families and old friends together.
"Frankly, I had given up on men,'' Alice said. "In fact, I looked up to the heavens and said, 'If you want me to get married, you pick him out. So far, my choices stink.'''
A week later, she met the man she would eventually marry.
"I turned the corner and stepped in front of a man with the most beautiful golden brown eyes," she said.
"We began a conversation that lasted almost three hours,'' Jack said. "We talked and talked, and then like Cinderella, Alice looked at her watch and said, 'I have to go, I'm driving six hours to a wedding tomorrow in Victoria, Texas.'''
Coincidence: It turned out Jack was going to the same wedding — his cousin was marrying Alice's cousin. So the two drove the 300 miles together.
"At the wedding reception, Jack danced with me,'' Alice recalled. "He danced me across the floor like a princess. I was falling in love."
But that wasn't the end of the serendipity. The morning after the wedding, Alice went to have breakfast with her uncle Charlie and told him she had met the man she was going to marry: Jack Totah.
"Uncle Charlie had a puzzled look on his face," she said. "He asked, 'I wonder if he's related to Nabeeb Totah.'''
Jack overheard their conversation and told them that Nabeeb Totah was his uncle, his father's brother.
"[Charlie] told the story of when he was a young man coming to America on the ship,'' Alice said. "He met a young man named Nabeeb."
"The two became instant best friends when the ship docked,'' Jack said. "They got separated at customs, and Uncle Charlie sounded sad. He said, 'I've always wondered what happened to my old friend Nabeeb.'"
A year later, Alice and Jack were married. At the wedding, the two old friends were reunited for the first time in 50 years.
"God winks can bring families together, and help you have the best wedding day ever,'' Jack said.