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?