Love can be fleeting, but for those couples lucky enough to experience true love the connection lasts a lifetime. As we dive into our next installment of our Senior Love Stories series, we learn just how enduring love can be when two people make a commitment to each other for a lifetime. The story of Betty Parker and her husband is founded on one memory that continues to grow and expand year after year. At GrandPad, we know how precious each moment, each memory can be for seniors and their families. These moments can be extravagant gestures of love, or simple moments of intimacy and kindness that last forever.
For Betty Parker, the deep affection she had for her husband just couldn’t be contained. On Valentine’s Day, 1952, Betty and her husband had only been married for 2 months. Regardless (or perhaps because) of this, Betty wanted a truly special commemoration of their first Valentine’s Day as a married couple. She marched down to the dime store and purchased an over-sized Valentine’s Day card that featured an adorable senior couple on the front side of the card. Betty recalls just how expensive that card was for 1952. “It was very, very extravagant. I paid 15 cents for it! Usually, you’d spend a couple cents. Maybe five cents.”
The next year, Betty’s husband actually forgot about Valentine’s Day until it had snuck up on him. Rummaging around the house, he found the “extravagant” Valentine’s Day card tucked away in his desk drawer. So, that year, he signed it and gave it back to Betty. What started as a tongue-in-cheek combination of an apology and a humorous gift grew into an amazing tradition for the couple – every single year on Valentine’s Day for the next 60 years, Betty and her husband would sign that same card, their greetings and notes changing and lengthening as their relationship changed alongside it.
As they ran out of room on both sides of the enormous card, Betty’s husband made a copy so they could keep signing. Soon, both sides of that card were full as well, as their children joined in on the yearly tradition. In all, three copies of the card were filled in on both sides before Betty’s husband passed away. Still, every year she writes a new note for her one and only Valentine.
Luckily, Betty has plenty of wonderful memories of her larger-than-life husband. Remembering the first time they met, Betty notes that she “loved him immediately” because he was so funny. His electric sense of humor made Betty know right away that “this was the guy.” When Betty first met her husband, he had a broken leg, a cast that went all the way to his hip, and two crutches. Betty laughs retelling how he would make fun of himself and always had a big smile on his face. When they met, her husband was actually dating her college roommate. As Betty tells it, once the roommate and her eventual husband broke up “he stepped in and asked me out.”
A widow, Betty stresses the importance of staying connected with your family and making friends with other widowers in order to keep going and fully live your life. For the past three summers, Betty has traveled around the American West with a group of fellow widowers. Last year they drove to Montana and stayed “in a darling Airbnb. We love the West. It’s really rugged over there,” relays Betty. “[My grandson] teaches fly-fishing, he lives in a one-room with a pot belly stove and a little kitchen.” Betty’s grandson and his girlfriend showed Betty and her friends the area, and they “had the best time in the whole world!”
Betty is fortunate to live within five miles of all three of her children, but her grandchildren live all over the country. Through her GrandPad she makes sure she is stays in touch and is a part of all her family’s significant moments. Join us next time for another edition of Senior Love Stories!