Sunday, September 21, 2014

Be Kind: A 50-Year-and-Counting Love Story

I witnessed a rare event the other day.  It was a surprise party we had organized for my dear friends Lena's and Sam's wedding anniversary.  

Lena is a talented woman who works with special kids and plays percussion in a rock/jazz band.   She's gorgeous - she looks just like Julia Roberts with gentler, softer edges and the same million-volt smile.  Sam is a gentle, kind man with a twinkle in his eye - the strong, silent type who's proud to let his woman shine.  You can see it in the way he looks at her.

The bride and groom
Their kids, her sister and a few good friends got together to throw them a party because it wasn't just any anniversary.   
We were celebrating their fiftieth one.

In the course of the party, someone obviously had to ask them how they'd lasted so long.  After all, not many relationships make it that long.

The couple looked at each other as if the answer was obvious. 

"Be kind to each other," Lena said, as if it was the most natural thing.  Sam patted her hand and she gave his a little squeeze.

I can hear the skeptics saying, well that's easy to say when you don't have any problems.  Lucky them, they probably had an easy life.  Not so. Neither one of them have had easy lives, not before they met, not during their lives together.  But they are among the happiest, most giving and kind people I know.

Despite constantly struggling to make ends meet, many moves, health issues, raising three kids, the pressure of jobs and helping out with grandchildren, they've distilled the essence of making it work to two words:  

Be kind.

Sam fled home as soon as he was old enough.  His vehicle of escape was joining the Navy.  After basic training, he kept begging to get shipped out and instead kept being stuck with shore-side assignments.  One day, while on leave, a friend took him up to Rhode Island to visit some cousins.   

As they walked toward the house, they saw a girl standing on the porch.  She turned as they approached.  Sam took one look at her and knew.  That was it - he told his friend this was the woman he wanted to marry. 

Lena took one look at the cute sailor coming up the drive of her friend's house and promptly added three years to her age.  Afraid that he'd ignore her because he'd think she was just a kid, she lied and told Sam she was eighteen.

Two years later, when they went to get their marriage license -- only days before the wedding, because they'd forgotten all about that little detail! -- they almost had to cancel the event.  The judge wouldn't sign the license until Lena's parents showed up at the courthouse, too, to give their permission, because she was still three months shy of her eighteen birthday!

As fate would have it, not long after they started their new life together, he got shipped out with the Fifth Fleet and spent the next two years at sea.  Lena still has every letter they exchanged during that time - and in all the years since then.  Her family is cajoling her into turning those letters into a book about what it was like to be a Navy wife, almost fifty years ago.  

They think it would be a fascinating historical work. 

I think it will be a wonderful love story.

In addition to "be kind" -- any favorite words of wisdom from other happy couples out there?

Milou Koenings writes romance because, like chocolate, stories with a happy ending bring more joy into the world and so make it a better place.  

Her new release, Reclaiming Home, A Green Pines Romance, is available at Amazon
You can find her on her website,, on Facebook, Goodreads or Twitter.


  1. What a lovely story. I hope we reach our fiftieth. My Dad died three months after he gave my Mom a beautiful diamond ring for their fiftieth anniversary. He was already very sick. We took him in a wheelchair to choose it. It was a bittersweet moment. The sales girl cried when she saw that very frail man choosing a ring for the woman he loved.

    1. What a touching moment that must have been - you made me tear up just reading this!

  2. That is so sweet. I love seeing couples who have been married that long and are still happy together. I have a cousin who has been married to her husband for fifty years. I think the secret of their longevity is their shared interests and respect for each other's differences.

  3. What a wonderful story. Hubby and I will celebrate five years in October. 50 is to be commended. It's not likely that we'll make that number since we're in our mid-fifties now. Then again you never know!

    1. Like you say, Angela, you never know! I always feel a little jealous of long-married couples - one of the hazards of meeting one's true love later in life - but then I tell myself that when one finally does, every minute is so much more precious and appreciated than it would have been when I was 18 or 20!

  4. A heartwarming story. I believe they have it just right. We should all be kind to each other, and especially to those we love. My husband always says he can't understand why so many couples compete with each other and argue all the time when they should treat their spouses better than they treat anyone else.

  5. What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it with us today. Be kind, be kind, be kind - the true key to happiness!