Sometimes a Sticky Situation Can Lead to Long Lasting Love…

Martha and Phil

Forty Five Years Since They Met

Martha and Phil have known each other since Grade 9 having grown up in the same city and each attending Catholic schools. Martha would go to the basketball games at the Boys’ school and watch Phil play and they would see each other at school events and mutual parties. Phil admits to having a crush on Martha basically all through high school even though they never dated. It never occurred to Martha that Phil was interested in her at the time, but when she looks back there were many times when they connected at parties and had wonderful conversations.

There was one incident in Grade 12 which has provided many laughs over the years–at Phil’s expense. At a grad party for the Boys’ and Girls’ schools, Phil asked Martha to dance the last dance–Stairway to Heaven–of course. He was chewing gum and Martha had shoulder length hair at the time. I think we all know where this is going. Somehow one of her hairs got into his mouth and in Phil’s words,

It started bringing in friends. My God, my gum is mingling with her hair! There was nothing to do but fess up. Um, your hair is in my mouth.

Martha apologizes, grabs her hair, pulls it out along with a big wad of gum and announces, “Look everybody! I’ve got gum in my hair!”. And there we have one of Phil’s most embarrassing life moments.

After high school they continued to run into each other as they attended the same university. They even went on a couple of dates. Once they spent the night talking together at a fraternity party even though they were each on blind dates. They went on a few more dates. However, both were reluctant to get involved in a “high school” relationship. So they went their own ways and as fate would have it they met up a year later at university. Phil began skipping his vector algebra class (can’t blame him) so he could spend time with Martha during her spare between classes. Coffee turned into lunch, which turned into an invitation to a Halloween party. Phil, who doesn’t like dressing up, showed up as an undercover cop hiding in a garbage can covered in newspapers. Martha saw Phil as clever, funny, and athletic and thought “I’m in.”

It was the Christmas party that cinched the deal. Phil walked Martha to her car and said, “Well, maybe we should go for a drink over the holidays.” That was the beginning. They were to go for a drink and a movie and never saw a movie because they were too busy enjoying each other’s company. Marriage came five and a half years later.

Martha couldn’t even say the “M” word for at least two years even though she knew Phil was “the one.” Phil was not in a rush to get married and that created some tension. Although he wouldn’t commit to marrying anybody, he told Martha that if he was to get married, she’d be the prime candidate.

After four years of dating, Martha thought for sure he would propose at Christmas as she was getting ready to move out of her parents’ home. There was a big box under the tree at Christmas and Martha was convinced it was full of bricks and a small jewelry box despite warnings to the contrary from Phil. Phil, being the practical guy, had bought Martha a new set of pots and pans–needless to say there were some tears on Christmas morning.

The following Christmas they had some time on their own and were able to get away for a little holiday in Tofino. It wasn’t a grand gesture, just a question while sitting on a couch together in a cozy A-Frame cottage. Phil admitted he didn’t have money for a nice engagement ring which didn’t bother Martha at all. It’s one of the reasons when people get engaged, Martha never asks to see the ring because she still doesn’t have a ring, but it hasn’t changed anything. They got married with gold bands.

One of their strengths, according to Martha is that they’ve always given each other space to pursue different passions. Phil remarked, ” We have different interests and different ways of being. Martha is super organized and super conservative and he’s the opposite–more of a risk taker.”

Having said this, they both agreed that they have similar values. They both have a strong work ethic and they hope that they’ve set good examples for their kids in that regard. When it comes to raising the children it’s been a total team effort. Martha stated, “We were on the same wavelength as to how we wanted to be as parents and how we wanted our kids to turn out.”

Martha and Phil had three children in three and a half years and their middle child was quite sick with asthma as a baby. They were busy!! One of the things they have always done, was to make sure they made time for each other. They didn’t have family where they lived and so they hired babysitters allowing them to run errands together and get away on overnight trips. “We just realized that hiring the young girl down the street was worth it. We looked after our relationship and now we’re at the other end and it feels like old times before we had kids. It’s nice.”

Creating a Family One Animal At A Time

Melissa and Her Furry Family

Melissa and her husband Tony had both grown up with pets and knew they wanted a cat. Her husband brought home a cat that had the same birthday as Melissa. Pickles was a great cat–the best pet they’ve ever had. However, she was very active and they thought she might like a friend so for her birthday, Tony got another cat for Melissa and aptly named him Dill. Pickles, being a year older adopted Dill who was just two months old as her kitten. Dill is now a full grown big fluffy white Himalayan.

A year later, Kiddy entered the picture when a friend needed them to look after her for awhile. Tony was excited about having a dog, while Melissa was actually scared of dogs having never had one before and didn’t really want to be around Kiddy. They separated the cats and the dog because Melissa was afraid the dog might hurt the cats. After a couple of weeks, she came home and they had their paws touching between the baby gate wanting to play with each other. She realized they would be fine together and took down the gate and they have played together ever since. Kiddy wrestles with Dill like a small dog but at the same time Kiddy will hold Dill in her arms and cuddle–she almost treats Dill like he’s her puppy.

Dill and Pickles

Pickles passed away from a rare form of lukemia just a year after Dill arrived. After her death, Dill got sick. He spent hours sleeping and would eat the dogs food knowing it would make him sick. He was depressed and the stress was causing his organs to twist and he was throwing up blood and they had to put him on medication. The vet thought he might do better if he had a companion cat again and told them to find a cat as close to Pickles as possible. So began the search for a match. Most shelters don’t really know their animals and when Melissa inquired about cats that might be a good match, they just suggested reading the cats’ bios. Then Melissa found Tales to Tell–a free roam Animal Shelter. She had just over 100 cats, and knew all of their names and everything about each of them. She listened to the story about Dill and matched them with Zoey who had been in the shelter since she was six months old and she was then three and a half. “She is the dominant female cat your boy is looking for.” They brought Zoey home and instantly Dill and Zoey became best friends. Within a month, all of Dill’s tests came back normal–he gained weight, was no longer sleeping all day and did not need anymore medication. It’s shocking to see how grief affected a cat this way. It gives you an indication of how stress might affect humans as well. They’ve now had Zoey for four years and the three of them are the best of friends.

Cuddling Together

Kiddy had such high anxiety with her previous owner that she was eating furniture and rugs and couldn’t be left alone. She had no anxiety at their home so the owner decided it was best for the dog if they could keep her. Kiddy has now been with them for six years. Being a rescue dog, they aren’t sure of the breed but she has some Husky and some German shepherd they believe. It took Melissa awhile to get comfortable with Kiddy. She watched her play with the little kittens and it changed her opinion because Kiddy was so gentle with them. When her husband broke his leg a couple of years ago, she had to walk Kiddy and over the course of the walks they became super close and now she follows Melissa all over the house. Kiddy has managed to distill any myths Melissa ever had about dogs as she’s the sweetest she’s ever known. The one thing Melissa has learned about dogs is,

“Give dogs a chance. They have no agendas. They just love you and want to hang out. The affection Kiddy gives me is so amazing and pure.”

Kiddy’s Best Trick Ever

My favourite thing about Kiddy is that she is 12 but still acts like a puppy–doing tricks, running and jumping at the park and people are shocked when they find out she’s not a puppy because she still has so much energy. She knows lots of tricks but her favourite is jumping over her dad’s back.

I love Zoey’s quirkiness–she likes to find things to entertain herself with–like jumping in and out of clothing boxes. Dill is constantly tired and sleeps most of the day getting up for about an hour to run all over the house and then crash again.

Kiddy, Dill and Zoey have all warmed their way into Melissa’s heart and become a huge part of the family.

Meet Zoey!

How I Ended Up in the Back of a Police Car

Lisbon Next to Her Statue

Jane and Lisbon

Eighteen years ago, my two daughters finally convinced me that it was time for our family to get a dog.  We spent several evenings searching the internet for a breed that would work for us.  One day a friend of mine said, “Why don’t you come over and see my brother’s dog while I am dog sitting.  I think you’ll really like him–he’s a Portuguese Water Dog.  They used to work on the Portuguese boats and have webbed feet that make them very good swimmers.  The dogs were used to herd fish into the nets and send messages between the boats.”  The girls and I were totally smitten with Murphy.  I knew that if we mentioned that these dogs were used on a fishing boat, my husband would be hooked as well because he’s an avid fisherman.  A few days later we were back over visiting Murphy with my husband.  We had a chance to meet the owners.  They were telling us that Murphy had come from California and they would go down with their motor home and stay near Napa while the dog was entered in various shows.  We then got a new little Portuguese Water Dog puppy from a breeder in Edmonton, Alberta Canada.  “Annie” grew up with our children.  We were all devastated when she got cancer and died shortly before her fourteenth birthday.  

A year and half later, my daughter was walking down the street in Carmel, California with my husband and I, and sees a Portuguese Water Dog.  She runs up to the dog and asks many questions including where did you get your dog.   I did not want a dog as I was both still grieving from “Annie” and also enjoying the freedom that comes from not having a dog to look after.  However, two days later we were driving up to the breeders who happened to live a couple of hours from our house.  They were going to be breeding one of their dogs, Deja, whose Mom was the most awarded Portuguese Water Dog in history. The father would be Manly, who, at the time was the number one Portie in the US. The next thing I knew, my husband put down a deposit for a wavy female puppy in a litter that would be born in about three months.  In the course of our interaction, we realized these were the breeders of Murphy–the first Portuguese Water Dog we had ever met and the reason we got Annie.  If I have learned nothing, I have learned that there’s something to six degrees of separation.  

Lisbon with her cousin Nicole

I thought we won’t get one of these puppies because we are number six on the waiting list and there’s a good chance that the mom won’t have that many puppies. She had seven puppies–two girls. We visited the puppies once and then a few weeks later, my cousin and I picked up Miss Lisbon. I fell for her right away as I knew I would. My husband, as part of the agreement to get another dog, said he would take the dog to work with him. Lisbon has been to his office once for a short visit. So once again, it was me and a puppy.

In 1976, there were only 25 water dogs left in the world and an American breeder decided to save the breed. Lisbon has some of the DNA from those original 25 in her as they froze the sperm through her grandfather. Lisbon is quite different than our previous dog. She absolutely LOVES the water and can stick her head in and pick things up. Lisbon is super cuddly–likes nothing better than to sit with you or on you and nibble your ears. Every morning she has to lie on top of me and give me kisses–which was fine when she was a puppy, but at 42 pounds she’s getting a little heavy. Lisbon has a very loud bark which they needed on the Portuguese fishing boats for when they were sending messages between boats–they had to be heard over the ocean. Both Annie and Lisbon were smart but Lisbon has taken this to a new level. She can open all doors and if she would like a drink from the toilet–something that we discourage–she can open the door, stick her nose under the lid, push it up and drink away.

We had just moved into our home and were in the middle of a horrendous renovation. There was a massive mess everywhere and the contractor who was recommended by our realtor, took everything apart and then rarely showed up. My husband and I were sleeping in a downstairs bedroom surrounded by boxes and a crate for Miss Lisbon. That is how Lisbon and I started our adventure together. Right from the get go, Lisbon was a bit of a handful. She was a biter–not of things like shoes or furniture–just her mom and she demanded all my attention.

Friends suggested we get a play pen for her and when she was misbehaving she could have a little time out. That didn’t work so well. We tried other playpens made of metal and she climbed over them. Lisbon had a babysitter twice a week so I could have a break and then she closed down her business while she went for training. When she returned, she no longer wanted to take Lisbon because she was worried she could climb over her garage fence.

Lisbon, at first was excellent at coming when you called her name and then she started behaving like an unruly teenager. She didn’t care if you had treats–she thought it was a great game to be chased around the park. I foolishly let her off the leash one day in the park. After 45 minutes of chasing, I decided that I would leave the park and she could follow me home. This strategy worked quite well until she discovered a bag of corn tortilla chips with some cheese on them on the side of the road. That’s when the trouble started. I would try and get her and she would run into the road with the chip bag. Then she’d run across the road. Did I mention that it was pretty busy road with stop lights and a fair bit of traffic which had stopped–waiting for me to catch Lisbon. Then the police car drove by and asked if I would like some help. I said, “Sure.” I would never have asked for help had I known the officer knew nothing about dogs. Dogs do not come running to people yelling at them–especially when they are yelling, “Come here you stupid little shit.” A lady from one of the cars, as there were now about ten waiting for Lisbon to be caught, offered us a half eaten bag of French fries to try and lure Lisbon. Of course, Lisbon was faster, grabbed the frie from the officer and ran. More yelling! Finally, I said to the officer, “Why don’t you open your car door and I think she’ll jump in. He’s like, “Oh I don’t think that will work.” “Let’s just try it,” I said. It worked. We closed the door, the cars moved down the street and I had to get in the back of the car with Lisbon. I have never been in the back of a police car–thank you Lisbon. I asked if he could drop us off around the corner as we had only been in the neighborhood a few months and I didn’t want to show up in a police car. The whole time we are in the car he is cursing Lisbon–calling her a stupid, stupid, little shit over and over again. Lisbon was just recently allowed off her leash again.

For this and other reasons, we hired a private trainer. Then we decided to show Lisbon and the professional trainer took her for three weeks to get ready. Lisbon is a Champion and working with her trainer made a massive difference. Lisbon still likes to jump up on certain people and she is overly friendly as in licking/nibbling your ears if she really likes you. Overall, she is much better behaved and training is an ongoing process. I’m learning to be a better dog owner as well.

I have, as I knew I would, fallen deeply in love with Lisbon and she is VERY attached to her mom. As such, she gets away with some things she shouldn’t but in the end, life is better with a dog.

We are hoping to breed Lisbon this coming spring and can’t wait to see what baby Lisbon’s look like. I’ll keep you posted (pun intended).

After ten years of training and travel together, this tenacious couple decided to tie the knot during these tumultuous times

Stepping into Uncharted Waters–First Day of Marriage

Amanda and Kevin

Okay I know, but I love alliterations almost as much as love stories. Amanda sat down at her first class in Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Canada and introduced herself to the three people sitting beside her, whose names surprisingly were Mat, Pat, and Cat. When Kevin walked in, Amanda immediately took notice of him. Kevin walked up and asked if he could have the seat next to Amanda, she replied, “As long as your name doesn’t rhyme with Mat, Pat, and Cat.” Amanda was the first person Kevin met in their Education program. And so it began……

When they met, Kevin was in the mindset that he was going to be single forever. He had planned to finish school and then travel and he didn’t want a relationship getting in the way of that. As often happens, Kevin stated, “It really felt like it wasn’t a choice.” It was their time apart over the Christmas holidays that really made Kevin realize how much he missed Amanda and how important she was to him. Amanda fell hard and fast although it took awhile to decide he was the one. After two years together, Amanda wrote a letter to Kevin expressing her feelings and how she knew he was the one. It would be 7 years later before she gave the letter to Kevin on the eve of their wedding. What a wonderful gift to Kevin who was touched to know that this was how Amanda felt all those years ago.

Their second year together was largely spent apart. Kevin had graduated and spent a year fire fighting in northern Ontario, while Amanda taught music and then travelled to France. When they reunited, they both realized they had to find a way to spend more time together.

Kevin and Amanda had a strong foundation before getting married having been together for ten years. They spent a year in Taiwan where they had to adopt to a new culture and country which brought them closer together.

“Everything we have done has lead up to us committing to spending the rest of our lives together.”

As one of their strengths is being open with one another about how they’re feeling, they had had conversations about when they would get married. Upon their return from Taiwan, they knew where they wanted to live and decided it was time.

Trying to slip a surprise proposal in between busy schedules proved to be a challenge. Kevin didn’t want his proposal to be planned down to the minute but Amanda had a tight schedule and every time Kevin wanted to propose it felt rushed. Then they went on vacation to Honolulu and their calendars were wiped clean. On the night before they flew home, they had a lovely dinner together, followed by a romantic walk on a secluded beach guided by a full moon. She turned around and he was down on one knee. They both agreed it was the perfect moment. Originally he had planned to do it a couple of days earlier at the top of a mountain after a highly intense hike together. He had the ring in his pocket as they swung from ropes and clinged to the mountain. By the time they got to the top, he realized it wouldn’t be safe to ask her there because there was hardly even room for both of them.

“Planning a wedding during covid was like dancing with a tornado.” For us, it was just another adventure.”

declares Kevin

We got engaged March 2019 and wanted a summer wedding so planned for July 2020. We had a guest list of about 100 and then covid hit. They decided to go ahead with the wedding. Some of their friends had postponed their wedding but Kevin and Amanda chose to go ahead and just modify their plans. They rebooked a number of venues for the ceremony and as covid continued, those venues shut down. In the end they were able to have the ceremony at the same location as the reception on the beach in front of the restaurant. The guest list was reduced to 40 people which allowed them to have an intimate, personal wedding. With the exception of one immediate family member who was unable to come, the wedding was a dream–a personal, intimate occasion shared with their family and closest of friends.

For Amanda there are a lot of things that make them work–we are similar in a lot of ways but in other ways we are completely different–her weaknesses are Kevin’s strengths and vice versa so they balance each other out. In Kevin’s words, they have pillars of common interest that bring them together–music, outdoor activities, language, and travel. They respect each other’s independence while at the same time they love spending time with one another. When they are together they are fully present. Both feel completely at ease to be silly, goofy and fun when they’re together. “Amanda has such an incredible energy and presence about her and I appreciate that,” raves Kevin.

Open communication is really important for them. “We talk about things before they get a chance to become big issues,” says Amanda. They have date nights at least once a week–often they include twenty minute to three hour walks.

Thank you so much for sharing you story Kevin and Amanda. Congratulations on your wedding. We wish you many years of joy, love, adventures and goofiness together.

Broadcast Love

Go For It Ladies…..

Susan and Josh

I believe in listening to your inner voice and on Saturday, December 12, 2014 for Josh, his was singing, “You Walked In” by Lonestar when he saw Susan enter a local Irish pub with her friend to have dinner. He was in awe of her beauty. Newly widowed, Josh was having dinner alone and watching a hockey game while a band played in the background. As luck would have it, they sat only a few feet away from Josh. He waited until they were finished dinner and asked Susan to dance. He also asked her friend to dance and when the song was over, the band took a break so he didn’t have a chance for that second dance with Susan. Josh became engrossed in a conversation with the people next to him while still able to keep an eye on Susan over his shoulder.

Having Fun in San Fransisco

From Susan’s perspective, she caught a glimpse of a man who seemed to be returning the attention. She commented to her friend that she found him exceptionally handsome. Low and behold, he asked her to dance, and he asked her friend as well so Susan thought, “Oh, I guess he’s not that into me”. Then the band stopped and it was really busy and they decided to leave but not before Susan had a chance to grill their waitress, Chloe, about Josh. “You see that guy over there?” and she said yeah and Susan said, “Any red flags? Does he hang out here? Do you think he’s a nice guy? Have you ever seen him before? Can you tell me anything about him?” Chloe’s like, “Uh, nah. I think I might’ve seen him once but he seems nice.”

Having passed the waitress test, Susan decided that she had to make a move before they left. She got up her nerve and her business card and tapped Josh on the shoulder. Susan handed him the card and said “My friend and I are leaving now, and I just wanted to thank you for the dance and say we’re on our way and if you ever want to go for coffee, let me know” and Josh replied, “Sure will”. He still carries that business card in his wallet. A few days later, Josh called the number and they went on their first dinner date.

On their third date, Susan took Josh out to Butchart Gardens in Victoria at Christmas time. The gardens were magical and Josh was able to bring his dog with him which made it even better. This date sealed the deal for Josh. Susan had dated a couple of people casually and she knew immediately Josh was different. Right away she introduced him to her daughter and her family–something she hadn’t done before.

Unfortunately, Josh had planned to go on a two month holiday and they were both feeling a bit sad about being apart. Josh invited Susan to join him and they spent ten days together in February. When it was time for Susan to fly home, Josh dropped her off at the airport and started driving back to Victoria, arriving the day before Valentine’s. Only thing was, he had rented his home out until the end of February. Susan invited him to stay with her until the renters left at the end of February. However, he never left and they have been together ever since. It was a whirlwind romance.

Being a widower, Josh was a fervent believer that we are just here for a short time and love is too important to not give love or get love back. “So don’t hesitate. We’re in love and we know that I’m getting older and I might not be here one day, but it’s about being in love and respecting each other and enjoying each other’s company.”

Susan advised that if you find someone who you really connect with, “Go for it. Because I talked to other women who are single and they go “Oh, I can’t be bothered dating”, or they’re on some kind of dating website, and they give up on it and don’t even check the site.” Having said that, she also believes you have to be cautious if you’re connecting with people on line. She had rules about going for coffee first in a well lit shop. However, her first date with Josh was in a quiet, dark restaurant but it felt okay. Both Susan and Josh followed their intuition and the timing was right and now they couldn’t be happier.

33 Years and Still Growing in Love

Karen and Jonathan

Karen and Jonathan met on a blind date on July 9th, 1986. How do I know this? Because Karen has a very detailed record of all important dates relating to their relationship. Jonathan needed a little help with a speeding ticket and Karen worked in a law firm so their mutual friend contacted her and decided that he would set the two of them up. Their paths had crossed a few years earlier but the meeting wasn’t to be. This time a date was set up despite Karen’s reluctance. She had given notice on her apartment and was going to move to Florida so was not interested in meeting anyone. Karen had never been on a blind date but thought if her friend, Brian recommended this guy, how bad could it be and she was leaving town anyway. Their mutual friend chaperoned the date which involved dinner, drinks at a bar, followed by coffee at Jonathan’s apartment while still being chaperoned. As soon as they each had the private ear of their chaperone, they requested the other’s number. At the end of the evening, Brian, the “supervisor”–much to their embarrassment, announced that they both had admitted to really liking one another and they should just share their phone numbers. Jonathan called the very next day and asked Karen to lunch.

After their first encounter in July, by Canadian Thanksgiving in October, Karen was in love and told Jonathan. It wasn’t til New Years that Jonathan was ready to return “I love you.” In terms of marriage, again Karen knew right away she wanted to marry Jonathan. However, Jonathan knew he loved Karen but wasn’t sure he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. After dating for a couple of years, he had been studying abroad for three months and it hit him. “There I was somewhere in a city with a bunch of classmates that were all travelling together and whom I knew pretty well and got along with and I just realized, I’d rather be with Karen back in Canada. I want to share the rest of my life with this person.”

Turns out Karen jumped the gun a bit with the proposal–assuming he would be on bended knee at the airport when he returned from studying abroad–so much so that she asked his parents for their guest list for the wedding! Jonathan didn’t know that she had asked his parents for the list. She had the list from her parents as well and had been planning the seating arrangement. This resulted in a little disappointment at the airport. Not to be deterred, Karen thought for sure it would happen at her parents’ home over dinner once he had asked them for permission. Jonathan had a different plan. He didn’t propose at New Years, or Valentine’s, or her birthday in March so she gave up. Meanwhile, Jonathan was trying to find a way he could surprise her with a proposal. On the long weekend in May, he had his dad drop them off at a restaurant–Karen thinking they were having dinner with his family. Jonathan made up a story that his dad was going to pick up some other family members and return so they waited at a table that was set for eight people and no one arrived. We ordered some wine and were holding hands under the table when he put the box in her hand. He said, “In the absence of my parents–or my family–would you marry me?” Karen replied, “A thousand times over.” Five months later they were married.

So sweet and in love

Jonathan says they are fortunate because they have quite a few things in common in terms of liking to socialize and who they like to be with. Even the friends we choose seem to be almost always of equal interest to both of us.

They both like art and travel. Even though Karen and Jonathan did not know each other growing up, they had similar backgrounds which resulted in similar expectations about how to raise kids and how to celebrate and create family traditions around holidays like Christmas. Having similar interests goes a long way because you end up wanting to do things together so you don’t grow apart.

Karen is a big believer in PDA with lots of hugs and tells Jonathan several times daily that she loves him. She’s particularly tickled when he says it first.

Karen believes their marriage keeps getting better and she continues to learn new and different aspects about Jonathan as they grow and learn together. This is why it’s important to be listening. “Lots of listening. I’m very good at listening. Some people are better at listening, some are better at talking,” teased Jonathan.

Still Growing in Love

Even after an awkward first encounter things can still work out..

Right Out of the Roaring 20’s

Nadia and Damian

A girl walked into a bar on her 28th birthday and thought, “Wow, this guy’s really interesting,” but “Oh, his friend looks cute too, so maybe I’ll make out with his friend.” In Nadia’s defense, she had been celebrating. The next day upon sober reflection with a friend, Nadia thought, “Oh, I remember what he was saying to me and he was a really nice guy. I should hook him up with my sister!” They lived right down the road from one another and Nadia thought he was a bit too old for her.

Nadia happened to have obtained Damian’s number. When Damian received the text he thought Nadia was texting his friend she made out with but Nadia wanted to find out what he was doing and could they maybe meet up in the next couple of days. “Yeah, that would be great” he texted back. They met up and as fate would have it Nadia’s sister was too tired to meet up right away and suggested she would meet up with Damian and his friends later. Nadia and Damian were by themselves at first and had a chance to walk and get to know each other. Despite what happened at the bar, Damian felt there was a strong connection right away. Nadia soon decided that she was keeping Damian for herself.

By the way, his friend was invited to the wedding.

Nadia knew right away that Damian was the one, but he was just like, “I didn’t know that right away!”. Nadia’s Mom was worried she might get hurt. In typical Mom fashion, she said, “Who’s this guy you’re going to see? You know, guys only want one thing!” Mom! Nadia knew that wasn’t the case with Damian.

Damian and Nadia lived in two different cities–Vancouver and Victoria. Damian had just come out of a relationship, so he wasn’t really ready to jump into another serious relationship. Having Nadia live in a different city gave him the space he needed. Damian knew a little less than a year into the relationship that she was the one.Nadia played it very cool and “pretended” she was coming over to see her sister who lived down the road and “Oh by the way should we get together and catch up?” However, after a few dates, the weekends turned into ski trips and once they spent five days together on a road trip to go snowboarding. There’s nothing like a few risky situations on snowboards to bring a couple together and after a year it got more serious and Nadia moved to Vancouver.

Unfortunately, Damian ruptured his Achilles tendon playing beach volleyball shortly after they moved in together. He ended up at UBC hospital and called Nadia and said “Hey, I’ve got bad news”. I literally can’t walk, I’m in a wheelchair, basically, for a while.” That led to Damian taking two and a half months off work, crutches and a wheelchair and Nadia was basically his nurse. Nadia was a real trooper and came in and really showed Damian what a true partner can be from the get-go which was pretty amazing for him. 

They then moved to Victoria after having bought a house site unseen–Damian taking on a new job and Nadia starting a business.

Damian had the ring for quite some time before the proposal. They talked about it for a long time. They were like, “We would definitely marry each other”. The year they moved back to Victoria, Damian was ready to pop the question, but with Nadia starting a business, his new job, and it being the first time they had ever owned a house together, there was a lot to figure out, and it was “kind of a stressful six months.” Damian wanted to get through that without popping a question and putting a wedding on top of all that “mess.” Damian said it was probably just his logical brain working in overtime.

They both knew it was going to happen. Damian had a plan but then he threw the plan out the window. They were heading home on New Years’ Eve Day from having spent Christmas with the family. They had some time before the ferry so they stopped at Lynn Canyon to go for a walk. The light was coming through the trees and the river was sparkling–it was just beautiful. Damian knew this was the spot. On the ferry they saw a pod of over two hundred dolphins–what a lovely sign. They got to celebrate both New Years’ Eve and their engagement with family and friends.

Communication was key for Nadia and Damian having gone through the moves and the achilles injury and new jobs.

Just let things happen and trust that things will work out. Nadia was not stressed out–she just played it cool and had the attitude “what happens, will happen.”

Damian stated, “We’re two different people and we argue and we’re both pretty stubborn people too, but I think we both get to a point where if we’ve had a disagreement, before we go to bed definitely, we reconcile whatever the difference is, or we put it aside. We don’t go to bed angry.”

Nadia and Damian also have a “relationship book” based on their birthdays and horoscopes which highlights their strengths and weaknesses. One of the things to watch for is to not take each other for granted. Nadia explained the book says we’re best in marriage and worst in friendship. Damian commented, “I still thing you’re my best friend.” Me too, said Nadia. Well there you go, maybe it means you need the bond of marriage sometimes to make the best of your friendship.

You’re Everything I Never Knew I Always Wanted….

Ed and Dar

Ed was newly-single and it had been only weeks since his “practice” marriage had ended.  He was not at all interested in meeting anyone. Dar had been lured into going on a couple of dates set up by their friend that were less than acceptable. This same friend had a new boat that he wanted to take out for Labour Day Weekend.  His girlfriend had said she wouldn’t go out alone with him.  Ed agreed to go to help his friend.  Dar agreed to go on the boat trip because “What the hec” she had no other plans for the weekend and their mutual friend had agreed to return her to shore no questions asked if she didn’t like his friend, Ed. 

Beautiful Couple

They all met at the friends’ home on Saturday and Dar knew immediately that Ed was different than the other men she had met–more of a gentleman.  Ed says he knew immediately that Dar couldn’t possibly be interested in him.  They went shopping for provisions for the boat trip.  As they wound their way through the deli, discovering that they both liked pickled eggs and smoked salmon, they fell in love.  

More than chemistry there was an ability to see into each other on a deeper level and by the end of the weekend, they were engaged to be married. There was no grand gesture–down on one knee or a ring–just an understanding that they would be together. They had even discussed how many kids they would have. 

After docking, back at Dar’s place they continued the conversation–how would they proceed as they did not live in the same city and Ed was leaving the next day.  Ed was convinced Dar would never call him. When Dar arrived at work the next day, she received a huge bouquet of roses with a note saying thank you for the best weekend of my life.  

They hadn’t told anyone that they were engaged after the weekend on the boat because they were too embarassed–afraid people would not understand. Ed and Dar spent every weekend together commuting back and forth and a couple of months later, Dar quit her job and moved to be with Ed.  In November Ed met Dar’s parents and Ed asked Dar’s father for permission to marry his daughter.  They were thrilled to have Ed join the family and the wedding would go ahead.  There was just one hitch–they both needed to make their divorces final.  They used the same lawyer and the day after the divorce came through they were married just a over a year later.  

Ed and Dar would not necessarily recommend getting engaged after just a weekend together.  That was chemistry and in Ed’s words, “Don’t fall for chemistry–chemistry goes away.  It’s about holding out for someone who is a soul mate.”

Ed showed up with a “new to me” car because I had mentioned that the first gear was gone on my car.  Ed knew I loved Gund stuffed animals so every time he showed up he had a Gund stuffed animal with him to the point where they had to add a rider on their home insurance.  Although there have been these grand gestures throughout their relationship—Dar still has to be careful about what she would like because Ed will get it for her—she believes it is what you do on a daily basis that matters most.  Every single morning Ed delivers Dar a latte in bed.  Every day they find something that would make the day better for the other person.  Often its smaller things like picking up someone’s favourite cheese when you are out grocery shopping or watching a show that they like.  It could be a phone call asking if there is anything they can do to make the other’s day better.  

For the 37 years that they have been together, every morning that they haven’t woken up together, Ed writes a love letter to Dar.  Dar now has stacks of these books, each bound with a red ribbon. 

Early in the relationship Dar said “I’m 100 percent accountable for us having a great relationship.” If you each believe this, Ed states, “it isn’t a 50/50 relationship, it’s 100/100 with each of you putting in 100 percent effort.  While Ed claims, “I am responsible for us having a great marriage–you don’t even have to do anything Dar.  It’s easy if you are in a relationship with the right person.”

Fay and Ken

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In 1949, I was a 17-year old kid venturing forth from the confines of a tiny hamlet called Snowflake, Canada to the bright lights of Pilot Mound–a town of 700,  20 miles away. I boarded with a local family while taking my Grade XII.  Soon after arriving and when the ice was in the skating rink I was recruited by the Pilot Mound Pepperettes girls’ hockey team to play defence.  I knew very little about the rules of hockey and not a great deal more when the season was over, but had a wonderful time being a part of that early team.  Out on the ice from the age of 5 and always wearing boys’ hockey skates I was a strong fast skater.  Ken saw me playing and decided he wanted to meet the newest player. There were regular dances held in a number of small town community halls and at a dance hall at a local lake.  These dances with the Royal Canadians Band playing, provided the first opportunity for Ken and I to meet.  After one such dance, he asked to take me home. I said “No” but told him that in his deaf ear so when he came to pick me up at the end of dance, I decided  “oh well, whatever”  and that was the beginning of our relationship.  We went to these dances together but I also went to the dances with other guys from the Pilot Mound United Church Young Peoples’ club.  Commenting about Ken, my boarding-home mom, told me that he was not too bad a guy; his parents were fine people and he was certainly better than his wild friend.

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Ken and I continued to date during my Grade XII year with my interest in other boys gradually decreasing.  On the night of my graduation, a friend had organized a progressive dinner and I invited Ken to the dinner and the graduation dance afterward.  The Fall of 1950 found me attending Success Commercial College in Winnipeg with Ken working in the winter at the Canada Packers plant. 

During the farming season, Ken would drive in from Pilot Mound on the weekend and we would go on double dates with friends. The city offered many fun places for young people in 1951, fine restaurants like Rae and Jerry’s which is still open today, night clubs where famous entertainers and orchestras performed, and architecturally stunning movie theatres.

Over the course of our time together, I fell in love with Ken.  I had given up an earlier goal of becoming a social worker knowing that I wanted to be where Ken was, understanding  that eventually we would be on a farm at Pilot Mound.  I took an Executive Secretarial course and boarded with some family friends.  

The Propo

I don’t exactly remember how Ken proposed.  Unknown to me, he had selected a beautiful engagement and wedding ring set and one night he asked if I would accept the ring.  I said, “Yes.”  After graduation, I began working as the secretary for the President of Success Commercial College.  When I applied for a new job in the editorial Department of the Country Guide and Public Press, working as personal secretary to the editor, I removed my ring and put it safely away for a year.  In those days women wearing engagement rings were thought to be only temporarily in the work force and I would never have acquired the position. In the spring of 1953 I began wearing it again and we started to plan a fall wedding.  My mother, an excellent seamstress, fashioned a beautiful ice-blue satin and lace wedding dress for me. In the fall of 1953 we were married in Snowflakeunnamed-2United Church.  The reception was held in my parents’ living room. 

After another eighteen months of city living with Ken working at Trans Canada Airlines (now Air Canada) our life of adventures as a farming team unnamed-1began when we moved to the family farm.  Our first daughter was a tiny tot and that first fall we welcomed another little daughter to the family. Although rural electrification had come to Manitoba farms in 1948, 1955 was still on the periphery of almost pioneer times with no indoor plumbing.  Ice wells were still in use and cream separators, cook stoves, washboards, butter churns all had a place in our life.  Before too many years, several labour-saving appliances lightened the work load for both of us.

Our family grew to include four daughters and one son, all very healthy children the raising of whom provided us with a million adventures. While our family was young, kind parents on both sides of the family gave generously of their time taking care of the children to allow us little holidays.

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When asked for “words of wisdom” as to how we were able to build an enduring and happy relationship for 61 years a few thoughts come to mind. Firstly, Ken and I were both very hard workers.  We had great respect for each other—I knew that Ken’s handshake sealed a deal; and he knew that if someone was my friend they were a friend forever.

Of course there were quarrels and disappointments, one with the other, as it is impossible to always have smooth sailing–there were several “adventures.”  I didn’t particularly like working with Ken on the farm.  There were never instructions and he was quite impatient.  Ken thought he could drive through sloughs with his tractor and then he’d get stuck, and say to me, “Hop on this tractor–pull out the throttle gradually and put it in forward and pull me out of the mud.”  We were moving cattle from one pen to another and he asked me to stand in front of a bunch of cattle as they would try to escape.  There was no way I was standing in front of a herd of cattle as they stampeded toward me, and I got into trouble for jumping out of the way.  Once a half-dead frozen calf had been carried in from a field to be dried off in front of the oven and laid to rest in the bathtub while Ken was curling.  The calf came to life and was running around the kitchen–and when I called Ken he told me to tie it to the leg of the kitchen table as he had to finish his curling game.

However, we were able to “fill gaps”—where one was weak in a certain area the other was strong. We were equally committed to giving our kids opportunities to get off to a good start in life, regretting that for too many years money was in short supply.

Although we loved traveling together and managed to visit several countries, we also went on separate holidays.  Being free to pursue individual interests and have some time away from each other strengthened our marriage. Ken loved going on hunting, fishing, and curling trips with buddies; and I travelled as a member of the Manitoba Ladies Curling Association, giving curling clinics around southern Manitoba and coaching youth curlers.  I went on Toastmistress trips to conventions and once went to Edmonton for a two-week horse camp.  There were always new stories of adventures to share when we would return home.

Community volunteering was important to both of us. No matter what we were involved in individually–whether for Ken it might be starting a Manitoba/ North Dakota golf tournament, the Border Classic, the Sportsman Bonspiel, building a swimming pool, running a Car Bingo to put artificial ice in the curling rink; for me, chairing the pool committee for over a decade, starting a foundation, heading church dinners, being on the funding raising committee for the Pilot Mound Millenium Recreation Complex–we often worked side by side supporting each other.

We enjoyed many family gatherings throughout the decades with our big extended family, both his and mine–all of which played a part in strengthening our relationship.

Underlying our marriage was a deep unspoken commitment that we would try to build a happy and stable home for our children.  After 61 years we found ourselves with a wonderfully large family of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren who  brought us great joy through the long years of our marriage.

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***This love story is particularly near and dear to me as Ken and Fay are my parents.  Although my father is no longer with us to tell his side of the story, I can honestly say that he adored my mom.

 

 

 

 

 

Ben and Julie

 

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Julie and Ben met online through a dating app called JSwipe. They went on their first date to a wine bar in the lower east side of Manhattan and had dinner and drinks. It went well, however, it was the second date where Ben realized how easy and natural it was to be together.

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Ben knew Julie was the one when he took her home to Florida to meet his family and everything felt so comfortable. There was no particular defining moment for Julie just a gradual growth into a beautiful, natural partnership.

How Did Ben Propose

IMG_2389After a year and a half of dating, Ben proposed on the balcony of their hotel room in Florida.  He had arranged for a photographer and for Julie’s parents to be there so they could all celebrate together

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wedding

When their large wedding plans had to be postponed due to Covid, they decided to stick to their original date—not an easy decision given that Ben’s parents wouldn’t be there in person. About fifty close family members and their bridal party attended a virtual live wedding thanks to Zoom on their original wedding day. All the guests received a video and pictures the next day.  They have rescheduled the party to September and if that doesn’t work, they also have a date late in 2021.

The Wisdom

Ben and Julie have already handled their first major challenge with grace. So, what makes Julie and Ben work so naturally together? Julie had this to say:

“We are our own people, but we are stronger together.  I’ve always been independent and Ben also likes to do his own thing – so we both have our own lives. We have our own friends, our own jobs and ambitions, and often – our own ideas of a fun Friday night. So, if I am making plans to go out, I know Ben will be happy to have a night home in sweatpants by himself. We LOVE to do things together and be together, but we also find happiness and fulfillment from things outside of each other. I think that is super important to sustain happiness. We also make a good team. Ben is cool, calm and collected. I am reactive, passionate and intense. When you put us together, we have the right amount of fire and ice. Lastly, I think we just have a level head (collectively) and try and put things in perspective. This whole ordeal has been challenging and emotional, but we are also able to realize that we still have each other and our relationship, which is, by far, the most important thing.”

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