story list .......
"I had my one-and-onlythat
not another around."
True lovethe kind about which timeless tales are toldcan
be a bit pricey these days and, for that matter, a little complex, what
with all the scientific research available to help secure the best possible
Just consider the profiles and comprehensive compatibility tests accessed
by more than 32 million members at only two major online dating sites.
Also, new research confirms the value of a kiss: Men and women can,
through the simple touching of lips, know if their genetics are compatible
"The moment of a kiss, there is a rich exchange of postural, physical
information," Gordon Gallup, a psychologist at State University
of New York, said in a recent Time magazine article.
But the senior men and woman at a Valentine's Day luncheon Feb. 7 sponsored
by the local unit of the Salvation Army had much simpler stories to
Here, we share but three of them.
Hank and Eva Bentsen
Hank and Eva Bentsen were no Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire when they
met at a naval base in Oxnard, Calif., in 1952. But they did love to
Eva was living on the West Coast with family friends when she and their
daughter headed to a local community center for dance lessons, and "along
came a couple of sailors."
Her friend parted with her new beau after a few dates. But Eva and her
blond Norwegian from Naval Construction Battalion No. 2 kept dancing.
They danced and dancedsometimes every day of the weekuntil
they decided four months later to marry. They honeymooned among the
redwoods at Sequoia National Park.
The Bentsens were drawn to each other for other reasons: shared Christian
beliefs and Scandinavian backgrounds. He spent three years in Norway
during his early childhood, and she spent three years in Sweden.
Eva had been married once and had a young son; Hank had never been married.
Together, they had two more kids.
Church parties, a little candy and a bunch of roses were the rule on
Valentine's Day's at the Bentsen house until Evaconsidering herself
resourcefuldecided they should use the money for something else.
But she has yet to forget the pretty pink outfit Hank once bought her,
so suitable for work. Or the time he bought her those "lovely pearls."
Sixteen years after they married, in 1968, the couple returned to Colorado,
where Eva had been raised. The couple live in Morrison.
On their 50th wedding anniversary, they headed back to Lake Elowin in
Sequoia National Park.
"I think it kind of brought us the springtime - our springtime,"
Another five years have since passed.
Did she imagine, when she married Hank at age 25, that they would one
day celebrate 55 years of marriage?
"Oh no," said Eva, 81. "When I was young, I thought 50
was old and I would be ready to kick the bucket at 60."
Hank, four years her junior, didn't worry so much about age.
"I knew one thingI was determined that it would be a lifelong
situation," Hank said of their relationship.
They don't feel old.
"As I reach those numbers, old age keeps getting pushed up a few
more years," Eva said.
What has kept their relationship strong for more than half a century?
"We depend on the Lord," Eva said.
Hank's childhood was a rocky one: His mother fell ill and died when
he was 4, and his father, struggling to cope with that loss along with
the Depression, found his comfort in a bottle.
That's why Hank's marriage to Eva has been a balm to his soul.
"She has been good for me; she has changed me," he said. "She's
steady like a rock, or anchor, or whatever you want to call itshe's
just the better part of this twosome."
After his retirement, the couple tried once again to dance. But the
square-dance moves they had learned in their heyday were different than
the ones folks do now.
"We danced a little while; it was fun," Eva remembers. "But
it wasn't near the fun we had when we first met."
Sharon and Norm
Norm Milford was singing in a Denver church choir when he caught the
eye of a tall, willowy creature during the summer of 1968.
Sharon Lyons was 28, a teacher at an elementary school in Englewood.
Norm, four years her senior, was a teacher at Evergreen Junior High.
They drove to the mountains that summer day, a journey that turned into
a 5-mile hike as they reveled in each other's company. Norm was struck
by Sharon's poise and dignity; she was moved by his gentleness and air
of stability. She had never been married; he had once before.
When they reached a watering hole, in a stand of aspen, they marveled
at the site of so many paw printsfrom creatures that had returned
there again and again.
They snatched up a piece of driftwood as a memento of that day on their
way back down the trail, and a year later they were married.
It was a glass of ice tea that cooled their bliss shortly after they
wed. A difference of opinion about the way to mix in sugar produced,
to their surprise, a heart-wrenching confrontation.
For a moment, the common values they sharedfrom religion to parentingcould
not hide their differences.
But that's just a memory for this couple, now married 38 years.
Through it allthe birth of twins and their graduation, the failing
health and death of aging loved onesthis couple found ways to
keep their relationship fresh.
Each week, for the last 15 years the Milfords have returned to dating.
The rendezvous can be simple or adventurousfrom hikes or dinner
out to a camping trip, concerts or an overnight stay at the Stanley
Hotel in Estes Park.
They take turns, on alternate weeks, planning each occasion.
"My girlfriends ask where I get the ideas," Sharon said. "I
listen to the TV or read the newspapers."
Sharon worries that young people today who live in a world filled with
opportunities for "instant gratification," may lose sight
of the work necessary to preserve long-lasting relationships.
But Normwith that air of stability about himtends to think
true love will never stray far from its roots.
"Some of the terms and parameters might change," he said.
"But the concept of a man and woman complementing each other
will always be there."
On their 25th anniversary, the Milford's replicated the hike they took
the day they first met.
So much had happened in their lives over two and a half decadesso
much transition and change. But when they found the stand of aspens
at the watering hole, everything was virtually the same.
Sharon was so movedso reassured by the "eternal quality of
nature"that she wept.
Kay and John Kalberer
Franklin D. Roosevelt had just defeated Herbert Hoover in a landslide
victory for the presidency when Kay Hermana shy young woman from
Queensaccepted an invitation to a Thanksgiving dance from a stranger.
Kay "hesitated and hesitated"she knew little about the
man named Jack, who had recently broken an engagement, and nothing about
the tavern where he planned to take her.
But he was a persistent caller, that November of 1932, and she had no
other suitors. Overeager friends had threatened to pair her with other
strangers if she couldn't find a date on her own.
Her decision to go out with Jack that night proved lucky for John Kalberer,
who had gone to the same pub with a cousin and some pals.
Kay's beauty mesmerized him as soon as she walked through that door.
"Wow," he said to his cousin Frank. "That's the girl
Kay danced with both men that Thanksgiving, but it was Johnwho
begged to see her againwho won her heart.
Kay married John five months later, and remembers those details as if
it were yesterdaythough she is now 97 and John is gone.
There life together was a modest existencehe worked his way up
in the real estate business, while she was a stay-at-home momuntil
both children were grown and she became a switchboard operator.
"When I had my first child, I didn't even have a crib; we had to
put her in a dresser drawer the first couple of weeks," Kay said.
"Years ago people didn't make much moneymaybe 20 bucks a
week, and we were paying 30 in rent. You grew up the hard way and appreciated
what you got."
For more than 50 years, Kay appreciated John.
"We respected one another," she said. "When we got angry,
I wouldn't talkI wasn't a fighterbut my husband would say,
'Let's kiss and make up.' "
Sometimes, his response would be different.
"He'd say, 'You know Kay, you are even prettier when you get angry,'
and then he would take me and hug me.' "
Or, as a reminder of their first date, he would sing the words to a
popular song: "It had to be you."
After Kay's father died, her mother came to stay for several years,
and John's love never waveredfor her or her mother.
Kay lost him at 72, when his heart gave out, after a Thanksgiving dinner
at their daughter's house. He had just written a check to his granddaughtera
little birthday giftwhen he looked at Kay, smiled, then dropped
his head to his chest.
That was nearly 25 years ago, but Kay has found no other loveeven
though many men, since then, have been attracted to her like a "magnet,"
especially when she was a member of the American Legion.
"I was a strict Catholic," Kay said, offering up one explanation.
"My husband's gone, (but) he's looking down on meI wouldn't
want to cheat on him."
But that's not the real reason, she confesses from her home in Evergreen,
where she lives with her granddaughter Linda Ann Rogers.
"I had my one-and-onlythat one-in-a-millionand there's
not another around."