Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Wednesday Wow

No weird news, although there is always a surfeit of stupidity. In cruising for weirdness I came across 'wow-ness' instead. So no jokes today, only awe.

Still in Love After 77 Valentine's Days

SALEM, Ore. - Fred Landis has a Valentine's Day ritual. Sometime, somewhere, he'll lean over to his wife, Gwen, and say, "I love you." They say he's been doing that on Valentine's Days since 1928, when they were married. In October, Fred, 102, and Gwen, 101, celebrated their 77th wedding anniversary, and they are not far shy of a record. The longest current marriage, according to the 2006 edition of Guinness World Records, is 78 years, 296 days.

On Valentine's Day 2006, Fred will say "I love you" a bit louder than he used to because Gwen is hard of hearing. Fred has macular degeneration, which has kept him from writing poetry for her. Gwen says Fred wrote poems to her during their courtship, a gesture that may have won her heart. "I think that had something to do with it," she said with a shy smile.

They met in 1924 as college students, he at Albany College and she at Simpson Bible College in Seattle. Fred attended a church where Gwen's father was the pastor. When they were married, Gwen's father performed the ceremony. Gwen remembers receiving $800 for a wedding gift, then losing it all in the stock-market crash the following year.

The Landises spent the next four decades working in ministry and raising four children. Fred was the pastor at several small churches in the Northwest. Gwen played the piano and organ and taught Sunday school. He retired in 1970, and they have lived in Salem since then. They moved to a retirement center in 1994.

"They're just wonderful people. You couldn't find any better," says a friend, Dorothea McAuley. "They're setting an example for everybody. They're always happy. I've never seen one of them angry. They're God's example." Commitment is the word Gwen uses to describe their marriage success. Fred agrees. "Sure, we've had squabbles and disagreements galore," he said. "But there's a commitment to marriage because we have a reverence to it."

They have eight grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. Son John, 67, says he continues to be amazed by his parents, their relationship and their lives. "I think — I know — they would not have lived this long singly," John says. "They keep each other going."



I personally knew a couple married 72 years before the husband died. This amazes and challenges me. What did they do right? Luck simply doesn't hold out for 7 decades. Mere tolerance would wear thin long before then. Passion must have cooled. What binds one soul to another so strongly for so long? Mutual respect? Shared faith? Tenderness? Consideration? That sort of success is carefully cultivated. What fallow ground must be broken, what seeds sown, what nourishes the plant that such strong roots hold fast and such lovely fruit ripens?

19 comments:

Chickadee said...

Wow indeed. I would imagine communication plays a strong role in the successes of those marriages. It's nice to see this story in a world filled with divorces.

snavy said...

This is quite a 'WOW' story & I have no idea how they did it.

My grandparents will celebrate their 62nd anniversay this June. The answer to how they've lasted is this:

separate beds.

Jodes said...

That is wonderful. I hope we can last that long.

Jericho said...

knowledge of one's self~
the character to honor a vow~
the wisdom to know what is important~and an overall selflessness that exists because of an understanding of what love really is ... of course, lots more may be present, both good & bad... this is an "off the top of my head" morning ~ lovely post, by the way :)

Sheri said...

One of my favorite parts of listening to Paul Harvey news is when he celebrates a long standing marriage and the happiness that the couple still have. I am constantly amazed at the devotion and love some couples have for each other. That being said, I really do envision myself and husband together for as long as our mortal lives allow us to be. I think the term soulmate really does have meaning and these long term relationships have found them.

I'm not sure what the secret is. I know putting the seat down has to be one of them because that would endear any man to my heart.

barefoot_mistress said...

Well shoot, I just can't wait to share Geritol with ol' Ratburn.....sweet story!

bsoholic said...

wow, that is amazing!

Gary said...

Nice story.

The Village Idiot said...

Heh, I already am an old married fart

Breazy said...

Wow that is amazing and I do believe that one reason they have made it that long is because they have God in their lives . That makes a huge difference . I can see Mr. Breazy and I together for years . I ,like Sheri, believe in soulmates and I do believe that I am one of the lucky ones in that department because if there really is a soulmate then I have mine ! Wonderful post Lime !

DaMasta said...

This is really amazing. I, personally, am deathly afraid of marriage, or failure thereof. I can't imagine sharing a life with someone for that long! And I'm really terrified of losing it all one day. *shudder* But this story should give us hope!

Ariella said...

There is an article about love, short term vs. long term in National Geographic this month.
The science behind the sweet story.
Good stuff.

DaMasta said...

side note: Lime, I would have made you a Valentine's heart, but I don't have yer email addy. :(

Top cat said...

i think being friends is very important.
I consider my wife to be my best friend and everything else just seems to fall into place.
tc

I also feel I'm gifted to have found my soulmate..that's very important and one very important detail to help make it last is "throw selfishness out the door" and you'll have a good start at a long marriage.

Bridget Jones said...

Wow indeed.

Indigo said...

Inspirational

FunkyB said...

We just live in a different time, I think. Look around; a promise really doesn't mean much anymore. It's not that our "word" is weak, it's just that the meaning of "promise" has been watered down and a new definition has surfaced.

~Lil Deb~ said...

I think that communication is key in this example and any relationship. If you can't talk to the other person, about anything and everything, then it just simply won't work. I don't believe that today's society does this... they have secrets about everything.

Penny Halston said...

Personally, I think this lovely couple still have the passion. Sure hope so, cause in 50 more years I hope to still be passionately in love with my husband of 28 years.