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The stories love can tell

Feb 16, 2017 By Betty Starks Case

Come July, ours will have lasted 75 years

Trusting that love didn't meet a crashing demise on Valentine's Day last Tuesday, I'm going to try to administer enough oxygen today to sustain that crucial dimension of life for another 365 days. (363 days now).

If years spent together speak true love, then I feel led to clarify an error of the organization named Worldwide Marriage Encounter as quoted in a neighboring newspaper. Last Sunday's story says the organization certifies a Casper Couple as "Longest Married Couple in Wyoming."

I really don't have a way to check on marriage longevities in Wyoming or our nation. But with hearty congratulations to story subjects Eldine and Joe Maixner for all those 71 "together years," I must correct an historical error of vital statistics.

I can tell from the newspaper photographs that Eldine and Joe are a loving, happy couple after sharing 71 years together. My mate and I commend them for holding their marriage in high regard among the many things they value in life.

But, hey, you kids - my mate Ned and I will have been married 75 years come July 16.

So many of your experiences in the story are similar to ours, probably because of the years we came close to sharing. Like the memories as high school sweethearts, office work, farm work, living in Cheyenne and Casper, etc., etc.

Today, we still live in our own home. And here am I, still writing a newspaper column.

Today, I wonder if couples like you and we who celebrate long unions may be faster learners in that particular field. If so, then how?

Did we work through problems and strengthen our selves and marriage with the experience?

Or did we notice that God seems to draw people of differing natures to one another like positive and negative charges? Not just for sex, but did we somehow recognize that varied personalities when joined can strengthen and benefit both?

Think on it: How else could God keep this world in balance?

Then there's family. I note you've long been aware of family values for years.

And yes, we've been credited with creating events that keep our families together, providing a peaceful haven for strugglers when the world looked discouraging.

We weren't aware of our perceived part in the process. We just said, "Of course - y'all come!"

We only know we loved having family around.

We only know each of us felt close enough to the family of the other to come running if they needed us, to love them when and if they were in need.

My mate held my mother close in his arms when my father died in tragedy.

I held his mother in mine, fed, bathed and cared for her just before she died.

Last week, I suddenly became quite ill. Friends who often help us were leaving town for two weeks. With no notice other than my illness, our wonderful daughter (in-love, not in-law) flew immediately to Riverton from Spokane, Wasington, to provide appetite-inspiring meals, laundry, housekeeping and taxi service. Son, already committed to filling in for others, held down the home front.

On Valentine's Day itself, Daughter, knowing we'd have shared cards and gifts if we'd been able, became Cupid herself, returning from the store with roses, candy, and, knowing our hearts for many years, valentine cards for us to exchange, with perfect messages inside.

I'm well now, but as I write, my story seems almost unbelievable.

Then I remember several old movies Daughter thoughtfully brought to share with us.

"Driving Miss Daisy," "Sarah Plain and Tall," and "Friendly Persuasion" remind me of the widely varied stories that love can tell. None bear similarities in format, drama, or historical setting. Yet, deep human love is clearly expressed, woven into each story by their individual situations.

The simple yet poignant truths of these old movies remind us that love can take many forms, survive many conditions, be strengthened by struggle. If given the chance.

Finally, to you kids down Casper way, we agree your record of 71 years together is as important and as beautiful as any other.

It's just that when it comes to anniversaries, you understand, ours of 75 years - numerically and maybe physically - claims the prize for "Love Lessons." (Your story's headline).

We hope you'll be learning happily for at least four more years.

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2017-10-22