After Gerry Turner accidentally told Theresa Nist that she's "not the [right] person for me" in his proposal, she admits to PEOPLE that waiting for him to correct his wording "seemed like an eternity"
Warning: This story contains spoilers from Thursday’s finale of The Golden Bachelor.
During the entire Golden Bachelor process, “what I reminded myself of frequently, is that I'm there to find the one person that's right for me,” Gerry, 72, tells PEOPLE in a joint interview with his fiancée, 70. “It boiled down to that one important question: Who's the one woman I can't live without?”
The retired restaurateur wanted to express that sentiment in his proposal to Theresa, which aired during Thursday's Golden Bachelor finale, but it didn’t quite come out that way.
“I go through a small speech and I look at her and say, ‘But Theresa, you're not the person that I can live with,’ and have a long pause,” he says. “And what I actually said was, ‘Theresa, you're not the [right] person for me,’ which is much more harsh.”
That caused Theresa to think Gerry wanted to end their relationship. “I start slinking away,” she says. “I was like, ‘Somebody catch me, somebody catch me.’"
Eventually, Gerry corrected himself. “I quickly said the right line, ‘Theresa, you are the person I can't live without,’ and the air went back into her body,” he recalls.
But for Theresa, that moment took too long to come, especially after Gerry told her during their Fantasy Suite night that he planned to propose.
“It seemed like an eternity,” the New Jersey resident says. “I said, ‘Oh, my god. So what he said was not true. He changed his mind, he changed his mind. Somebody get me, somebody take me away." And then he said the right thing, thank God.”
In the end, Gerry found the proposal to be “pretty magical,” especially because his daughters and granddaughters got to be there for the big moment.
“Because of the way the sun was and the walk that Theresa had to do, she was a silhouette for an awfully long time. And my daughters tell me, ‘Please let it be Theresa. Please let it be Teresa,’” Gerry says. “And when the light hit enough so that they could see that it was her, they were ecstatic. They were in tears. They were thrilled."
That only solidified Gerry’s decision. “So I'm very happy that that's their reaction because I do rely on them a lot to reinforce decisions that I've tentatively made,” he says.
Theresa says her own family “fell in love with Gerry” during her hometown date.
“They were just so excited about him,” she says. “Oh my gosh. When I came home — and my daughter's really the only one who really knows what happened — when I pulled up in their driveway, it was like a welcoming committee, like screaming and screaming and so happy. My daughter loves Gerry, as does everybody.”
In the months since they got engaged, Theresa and Gerry kept in touch via regular phone calls and texts.
“To me, the texting is fun,” Gerry says. “She'll have a day with [her grandson] Henry and it's like, I'm hearing by text, and it's so fun to imagine how things would be if I was actually able to be there and be involved. It's not going to be a surprise when I actually get to see them again, and catching up will be much easier."
Theresa says their nightly phone calls lasted “for hours.”
“I'll lie down on the floor and close my eyes so I can concentrate on the conversation, and it's been phenomenal,” the financial services professional says. “We really have so much more in common that we even initially knew.”
Now that they don’t have to keep their engagement — and the fact that they’ll be getting married in January — a secret, Gerry and Theresa look forward to being in the same place and “sleeping in the same bed,” she says. “And we want to get the most comfortable bed ever!”
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