After being introduced to Gabby on season 26 of The Bachelor in early 2022, Bachelor Nation quickly learned that her father, Patrick Windey, and Grandpa John would be the determining factors on whether she ended up with Clayton Echard.
“I feel so lucky to have been able to relive one of the best nights of my life for a second time tonight,” the ICU nurse wrote via Instagram while watching the date back. “My family may be an atypical one and we may look different from others, but I am so grateful for how perfectly to me we are stitched together and wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Gabby continued: “They dropped everything to make this night so incredibly special and I also loved being able to talk about my grandma. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t feel her presence (I swear she was in the ventilation system in my hotel room in Vienna). If you think my grandpa is entertaining, imagine the woman he was married to for so many years.”
During the episode, Grandpa John made an impression when he vowed to protect his granddaughter, especially since her dad couldn’t be there to grill Clayton. (Patrick’s girlfriend’s health issues forced him to remain isolated as an extra precaution amid the coronavirus pandemic.)
While Patrick missed the majority of his daughter’s date — Gabby’s aunt, uncle and cousin rounded out the group — he did manage to make a delayed appearance in the driveway.
“Hi Gabby girl, it’s me … dad. You are the most beautiful, intelligent, loving and caring daughter,” Patrick wrote on a giant card during a scene that gave off major Love Actually vibes. “Thank you for being the glue of our family.”
The former Denver Broncos cheerleader burst into tears when she saw her dad standing outside by the car. She later reflected on the moment in a February Instagram post.
“I will never recover from my dad showing up for me like he did. He is the most important person in my life and has never missed an important event, dance lesson, performance, etc. and hometowns were no different,” she explained. “I want to share every big event with him, so when I realized that it was him honking outside, my heart (and eyes) swelled to a gravity-shifting size. All of this emotion was multiplied by feelings of new love — which you know is rare and exciting in itself.”
Gabby’s relationship with her mother, Rosemary Hewitt, however, is far more complex. The twosome have been estranged for years, and Rosemary was not included during her time on the ABC dating series.
“As a kid, she was really physically affectionate, and then she would, like, flip and kind of withhold her love,” the season 19 Bachelorette, who shares lead duties with Rachel Recchia, told Clayton about her mom ahead of hometowns. “I was just like, ‘If my mom could stop loving me, why can’t anyone else?’”
The Bachelorette airs on ABC Mondays at 8 p.m. ET.
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