EDITOR’S NOTE: As Valentine’s Day approached, The Bee asked readers to tell us their stories of love. We received several submissions – some short and sweet, some longer and lovely. We share some of them here.
Heartbreaking lesson in true love
There was a day when I believed that love was a feeling, all warm and fuzzy, and it was about how someone else would make me feel. Along with that came expectations that love was to be proven on certain occasions – birthdays, Christmas, Mother’s Day and most definitely on Valentine’s Day. The expectation came from the question: How well does this person who says he loves me know me?
That day is no longer, as I came to find out what love really is, in a very real and personal way.
My husband, Brad, was admitted to the hospital two years ago for declining health reasons and I watched him start to have what was going to be a heart attack that would have killed him if he were not in a hospital. They wheeled him away on a gurney for a “simple procedure.” The doctors returned and showed me five arteries to his heart were blocked almost 100 percent. They performed a quintuple bypass, and several hours later in recovery, as I was 10 feet from his coronary care unit doorway, the real nightmare began.
Blue lights began to flash, horns sounded, crash carts were rolled and I was quickly escorted out of the CCU. I asked the nurse, “Is it my husband?” She answered yes. He was dying.
I was in a little room by myself and felt a strong urge to pray, so I got down on my knees and told God I wasn’t ready to be without Brad. They got him back but the journey ahead was, and is still, long. I was baptized by fire as a caregiver and his heart has a new beat, but he is currently in stage 4 kidney failure.
You ask: What is love? It is not a warm, fuzzy feeling or gifts received on special holidays because of selfish expectations. It is sacrifice, and not what others can do for us but what we can do for others.
I likened it to what Jesus did on the cross for everyone. I so love my husband and am more committed and endeared to him than ever. He has my heart and I’m especially grateful that I still have his.
All about give and take
Nadeen and Earl Marlett
Nadeen, 88, and Earl, 94, have been married 73 years and have lived in the same house in Modesto for 50. They married when Nadeen was 15 and they “ran off together.” These many years later, they have three children, seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Earl served in the Army’s 130th Infantry Regiment, 33rd Division, and is retired from the Modesto Irrigation District. Of the secret to a long marriage, Nadeen said, “Other than love, it’s just give and take. I’ve always been the lover of the two, and he’s been the provider.”
Conquering time and distance
Michael Van Houten
In 1973, I was a junior in high school and I met a girl named Karla. We hung out for the year and had a great time with each other. We lost touch after that because she moved away. I was always in love with her but didn’t know what the heck I was doing back then.
Fast-forward to last year. I was on the website Classmates.com and thought I recognized her. I sent her a message to find out if it was her. It was, and we started talking on Facebook.
We decided to meet up after more than 40 years. She came to Modesto from Myrtle Beach, S.C., then I went to visit her six weeks later. She came back to visit for my 60th birthday in November. She moved here on Christmas Eve and we have been happy ever since.
Becoming Mrs. Fettuccini
Eighteen years ago, I never would have imagined I would end up as “Mrs. Fettuccini.” Our love story began at Humboldt State University in Founders Hall. Dennis Filippini and I shared teacher-prep classes and then student-taught in first-grade classrooms next door to each other. That is where he was nicknamed Mr. Fettuccini.
We worked, studied and socialized together and I became good friends with Dennis and his fiancée. I attended their wedding at the end of our credential year. After graduation, I moved back home to Modesto and began my teaching career, while they stayed in Humboldt and started a family. I visited my friends occasionally and was present for their first daughter’s baptism and first birthday party.
A twist of fate brought Dennis and his family to Modesto, where he got a job teaching and we all lived in the same apartment complex. Shortly after I got married, Dennis and his wife divorced. Later, my husband and I were blessed with a daughter of our own. Through the years, Dennis and I kept in touch as friends, communicating though Christmas cards and occasionally friendly emails.
After my divorce, I emailed my old friend, inviting him over for dinner, thinking he might have some advice for a newly divorced, single parent. After all, he had been through it himself.
Dennis came over for dinner and that February night changed everything. We began spending time together, which later turned into dating. In March 2012, we took a trip to Humboldt. We took our three girls to show them around our college campus. It was there, in front of Founders Hall, that Dennis proposed. After 11/2 years of marriage, I still look back on our path that led us here and feel so blessed to share a wonderful friendship with the love of my life, “Mr. Fettucini.”
Cupid strikes at X-Fest
and Susy Palmerin
I used to work at Rico’s Pizza, where I met Susy. As she enjoyed her pizza, I was very nervous to ask her for her phone number but I did anyway. I said, what the heck, what can I lose? She happily gave me her “digits.” We hit it off good as friends. She went to Johansen High School and I went to Downey. There were daily phone calls after work, sometimes falling asleep with the cordless phone beeping because of low battery. We were close to boyfriend/girlfriend status for a couple of months, but time separated us. Phone calls were not as often as they used to be, and it got difficult to see her. Both of us drifted our own way.
I got married and had a beautiful girl, Victoria. Two years later, I was asked for a divorce. Susy lived through the same fate; she was married, had an awesome boy, Joshua, and also went through a divorce. At times, I would reminisce and wonder how Susy was.
One day during X-Fest in downtown Modesto, I heard a voice screaming my name. I got so nervous, feeling a storm of butterflies swarming around my stomach, and I was speechless. I was full of different emotions, I had always wondered about her and I realized she was right in front of me.
We rekindled our relationship, continued talking, hanging out and being together. As time passed, I asked her if she would be my girlfriend. She accepted. We were both mending our own broken hearts. With fun, loving and respectful emotions, time joined us even closer together.
Susy is a very wonderful woman. I realized that and I was ready to ask her to be my fiancée. I invited her on a trip to a Santa Cruz lighthouse, where I surprised her by asking her to marry me. She was so happy, jumping around with disbelief, and she said yes.
We continue to be happy together and we are looking forward to that special day.
Starting as friends
Camille and Doug Adams
Looking out the huge bay window of my great-grandmother’s house on Main Street, there was a dark-haired boy of about 10 playing with squirt guns with several friends who were scampering up an old oak tree to avoid the line of fire. My 10-year-old eyes never left those active, fun-loving children playing so happily and carefree in the grassy, triangular park.
To my surprise, the dark-haired boy enrolled in my class at school the following Monday morning. He was extremely shy but very gifted in subjects at school and we became fast friends. I remember writing a school play that year to be performed for our eagerly awaiting parents. Carefully choosing the children in our class to play their respective roles, I purposely chose this new boy to be my dance partner, even though dancing didn’t come naturally to either of us. Skipping and dancing on that big stage in front of what seemed like the entire world made a lasting impression on both of us.
Years went by quickly and we both turned 16. It seemed like the years found us going in different directions, with an array of friends and experiences to keep us apart. Beginning in our junior year of high school, we grew to be close friends as never before. My mother would make us bag lunches every day and we became inseparable, eating lunch under the expansive, shady sycamore tree next to the school library. Talking, planning, analyzing and dreaming, we always had something to occupy our daily conversations.
Five years later, my best friend asked me to marry him. I knew what my eager answer would be to his soft-spoken question. Has anyone ever been so lucky in life as to marry their best friend? Certainly we are not alike. In fact, we are more different than the same. He brings completion to my personality, and I to his. Holding our fairy-tale marriage together has been our shared belief in God and a similar outlook on life.
Together we raised our two precious girls, retired from teaching careers, traveled, stayed active and now just plain enjoy being around each other.
The old oak tree is still there, reminding me of the magical time 55 years ago when I was gazing out the window of my great-grandmother’s house watching that happy boy with the dark hair and big brown eyes.
So far since Facebook
Hector and I went to different high schools as seniors. On Facebook, I noticed we had a lot of mutual friends and he went to my old school. I had never seen him there, so I added him. I thought he was cute and I started talking to him. To be honest, when we messaged each other or talked on the phone, he was very boring, but I took it as a challenge. The first time we talked on the phone, he told his brother, “I’m going to marry that girl.”
Without knowing each other in person, we started an unofficial online relationship and we agreed that we fell in love through Facebook. We met face to face on Halloween in 2011 and it was one of the best days of our lives. Two days later, we started officially dating, and one year later, he proposed. We now have a 1-year-old son and we are very much in love and happy.
We set the date to marry on Nov. 7. We’ve come a long way since it all started through Facebook.
Love at first sight
In 1950, The Modesto Bee ran a “help wanted” ad for a job for a companion for a lady while her husband was out of town on a business trip. I applied for the job and the lady, Amy, hired me.
The first weekend, we went out for dinner and a movie at the State Theatre. The movie playing that night was “Father of the Bride,” with Elizabeth Taylor. After the movie, Amy suggested we go to a Western dance hall in downtown Modesto called the Uptown Ballroom. When we walked in, Amy turned to see if I was still behind her. Then she asked, “Who did you see?” I replied, “No one,” and she said, “Yes you did, because you have stars in your eyes.” She finally got me to tell her, “That young man in the Coast Guard uniform, sitting at the table with his friends.”
They asked us to dance but I said no. Amy invited them to join us at our table. As the night went on, Amy suggested that we all come over to her home and that I would fix them all a nice, big breakfast. Ed made a date with me the next day at 2 p.m. to go to another movie. I guess my cooking made a big impression on him.
Ed and I went together for two years. When Ed was in the Coast Guard, his duty station was in San Simeon, at a lighthouse called Piedras Blancas. He did not have a car, so for two years, he hitchhiked to Modesto every weekend that he had off to see me.
Ed and I got married on July 19, 1952. He phoned me the Wednesday before and asked me to catch the next bus to Victorville. I gave my boss three days’ notice and was on a Greyhound bus headed to Victorville. Ed and I then drove to Las Vegas and got married.
Ed and I have renewed our marriage vows five times. He says the reason he has married me so many times is because he feels badly because none of our friends or families were present to see and enjoy our wonderful marriage in Las Vegas. Ed’s advice: The true secret to a long-lasting marriage is to trust in each other’s love and affection.
To my valentine
Vicki E. Wilcox
I was 15, Keith was 18. He was tall with cute, pinkish cheeks and a goofy smile. The moment we met, I knew he was the one. (It only took him three years to figure that out for himself!)
He was in the United States Coast Guard, stationed in Savannah, Ga. One day I received a phone call: “Will you marry me?” Three months later, he came home, arriving three days before our wedding. Our honeymoon? Driving across the country in my 1974 Pinto, then driving back home two years later. (We still laugh about what a wild ride it was.)
Fast-forward six moves, two children, many animals and a mortgage. Before you know it, 34 years have passed. Sometimes when I look at my husband, I still see that tall 18-year-old with cute, pinkish cheeks and that goofy smile, and it warms my heart.
Shouting to the world
We met in 1994 in Hayward; we were both 14 years old. I had moved from San Francisco that summer. He moved from Chicago to Hayward the same summer. We met in a science class, and the minute he walked in (late), I knew he was the one. Yes, at 14, I knew he was the one. A few weeks after that, he asked me to be his girlfriend; we dated for about six months. We had a baby at 15, were married at 16. He started working a full-time job at 16. I went to school. Here we are, 20 years later – three girls, a dog, a house, two good jobs, a daughter in a private college, and we are only 34! We have accomplished so much! We love each other more then ever. People around us know this! We spend as much time as we can together, and need nothing but each other! I want to shout it to the world that love at first sight is real! And age is only a number! And even after 20 years of being with the same person, you can love someone more then life itself!
I met my wife, Natalie, when she was 16 years old, DJing at a teen night club. Attractive as she was, I held off on asking her out till she turned 18. For two years, I would often run into her around town and tell her, “I’ll call you,” but never did other than just once to say hi. She was still a minor back then and I was 21 years old, so we just remained acquaintances/friends.
One summer night while I was out, I ran into her at Taco Bell. I still remember the day and what she was wearing as if it was yesterday. That was over 25 years ago. Soon after that, I called her up and asked her out.
We’ve been together ever since. Back then, I wasn’t really so much a man of faith as I am today. As we grew older together in our relationship, we both got closer to God, and during the last 25 years, we actually got married twice. Some get married two, maybe three times in their lives, but what makes us different from the rest is we got married twice “to each other.” The first time it was a civil marriage service and the second time it was through our Catholic faith.
I was born and raised Catholic, but even though her grandmother was Catholic, she was never baptized or taught by her parents to fallow the faith. It was her decision to become Catholic right around when I really embraced my Catholic faith. So, she enrolled herself into the one-plus year RCA program at St. Stanislaus Church and as soon as she received all her sacraments and became Catholic, she wasted no time in remarrying me in the eyes of God and at the same church where her grandmother and my parents got married – St. Stanislaus Church on J street.
Let me scoot back a bit:
Back in 2004, I was weighing in at around 330 pounds. I was a smoker, a huge social drinker, and being a DJ, it was part of the deal – so I thought. I finally got wise on Christmas Eve in 2004 and thought to myself, “There she is, she loves me for who I am. I’m overweight and a cigarette-smoking, partying kind of guy who is addicted to food and all the gluttony life has to offer, and I really don’t make a whole lot of money. But still, she loves me for me and unconditionally.”
That night, I came to realize that she deserved better. So, on that Christmas Eve in 2004, I made a commitment to God and thanked him for her and asked him to forgive me for being so selfish in my health and in my relationship. My commitment was that I would stop every unhealthy addiction in my life and become a healthier person for her and our marriage. I quit smoking and drinking overnight (cold turkey) and began to eat healthier on Christmas Day.
Today, life couldn’t be a happier blessing for us. Our marriage is stronger as it is centered in Christ and I’m happy to say that I’ve been holding a my triathlon racing weight of 140 pounds – give or take a couple of pounds either way, depending on my training.
Oh, when I was overweight, Natalie, too, was around 40 pounds heavier. She supported my lifestyle change wholeheartedly and we both lost the weight together. She is my life, my soul mate and a blessing from God, and her love for me saved my life.
My husband and I are unique in that we are from two different cultures. He is Pakistani and I am Caucasian. We had two weddings to honor each culture. We met when I was 18 and saw him working at the cookie cart in the mall at Vintage Faire. I pretended that I wanted a cookie, but all I wanted was him. I even stood in line and I didn’t even buy a cookie. That was 11 years ago.
I have been widowed nearly 17 years. My husband died when I was 42, and my girls were 8 and 12. I was busy working as a teacher and raising my girls. Over the years, I had dated a little here and there, but never really had a relationship with anyone since my husband’s death. I had tried the online dating sites for brief times a few times over the years, with not very good results.
Last year, I was just about ready to hang it up again when I spotted this wonderful profile on OKCupid. The man sounded like exactly what I was looking for. I have a funny sense of humor, so I sent him a note and said, “You’re perfect! Want to get married tomorrow?” Of course, I didn’t hear anything back. That was around April.
Then in July, I got a message: “I’m so sorry … Do you remember me?” He said I’d asked him to marry me, and as he was trying to respond, his computer crashed. And then he couldn’t remember which site it had been.
Finally, he saw my picture and remembered me. He said I sounded like someone he wanted to get to know. So I sent him my phone number. He called me the next night and we talked for an hour.
He said, “ I hate to tell you this, but I am going to Texas for a month at the end of this week.” I said, “Well, would you like to meet before you go?” He said, “OK.”
So July 8, we met at a coffee shop and talked for three hours. He said, “Wow, it’s getting late – would you like to go have dinner?” So I followed him to a favorite spot of his and we visited another three hours.
That was a Tuesday. We pretty much talked each night. Then Friday night, he told me he’d be leaving the next morning. We decided to meet for breakfast since he’d be passing by on his way out of town anyway. We had a great visit and I dropped him by his truck.
In the car, he gave me a very tiny kiss. It was cute how he always kind of gave me a heads up so I could politely back off if I wanted.
He got out and walked to his truck. I had dropped something near my door and was afraid I’d lose it, so I opened the door and stepped out to look for it. He heard me open the door and stopped and turned around.
I’m a pretty shy lady with dating, but I was really feeling sad about him leaving. I mean, after all this time to meet someone I really clicked with so fast, and then he is leaving. I stood there and looked up at him, and I said, “Oh, the hell with it.” I walked up and slid my arms around his neck and he was surprised, but he decided to give it his all, too. He laid me back and curled my toes.
I kind of blushed and he took my hands down and was holding them to his chest. I said, “Well, I had to make sure you were coming back!” He laughed and kissed the tops of my hands and said, “Oh, lady, I’m definitely coming back!”
The next three days, he’d call me and wake me. We’d talk a bit. He’d call me midday, and then before he went to sleep each night, we’d talk. The third day, he told me he’d arrived and was going to take a nap and would call me that night.
That evening I was sitting on my sofa when he called and he said, “I just don’t think I can go on without you.” I said, “What???”
He said, “I want to wake up with you in my arms every morning for the rest of my life.” I was again, “What???”
He said, “Hmm, OK, do you need it old-fashioned? OK, Vicki Diane Lopez, will you marry me?”
I was in total shock. I said, “You’re crazy – you barely know me!” He said, “ I know all I need to.”
He told me there was no pressure, to take all the time I wanted. He said, “Call your mom, your sisters.”
I called my mom ... no help there. Finally, I called my youngest daughter in Oklahoma. She asked, “Does he make you happy?” I said yes. She said, “Say yes. You’ll have time to get to know him better before you actually get married. The worst that could happen is you’d break an engagement.”
So I called him back. It was now like 3 a.m. his time. I didn’t want him to sleep all night and not know the answer. After five calls, he finally woke up – pretty groggy. He said, “What? What’s wrong?”
I said, “Nothing, Wes. Yes.”
He said, “Huh?”
I said, “Yes.” And he started crowing like a rooster and giggling like a girl for the next 10 minutes. He said he was so afraid I’d say no, but he didn’t want to chance waiting and have me meet someone else.
Wes’ wife of 42 years had only died two years before. He wasn’t really expecting a relationship, just some company, someone to talk to. They had only known each other 21 days when they married.
He got back from Texas, we got rings, he joined my church, and on Oct. 11, we had a church wedding.
We are so perfectly matched. I never thought I could be this happy. If we can find happiness at 58 and 67, anyone can.
Mothers know best
My husband’s mother and my mother (longtime friends) decided that we should meet. Separately, they invited us to their campsites at Lake Don Pedro to go fishing. I remember thinking on my way home, “What a nerd, I’d never marry a guy like that!” Needless to say, the following spring, we were married at the Hacienda at Don Pedro. It’s been 20 years! I guess the old saying of “Mothers are always right” has some truth after all!
Stronger than ever
On Valentine’s Day 1972, I met my beautiful wife, Karen. By August of the same year, we were married! Now, after 43 happy years, with two children and four grandchildren, our love is stronger than ever. I love you, Keba.