Saying "I do" and meaning it
By Leslie Collins
In an era where marriage vows have become a fleeting promise, some couples are choosing to stay together--through ups and downs, through sickness and in health.
For these couples, the marriage vow is sacred--not a flippant string of words.
They've lived through strokes, Alzheimer's, mental illiness, but they're not giving up.
During its Valentine's Day celebration, Don Bosco Senior Center honored those couples, some of which have been married for 70 years.
Two years ago, Northeast News interviewed several of the couples who frequent Don Bosco, and we've decided to feature Don Bosco couples again. We interviewed three couples on the day of love and asked how they met, their secrets for a successful marriage and more. Below are their stories:
Kay and Nacho Hernandez, 67 years of marriage
Naco took one look at Kay and knew he wanted her.
He had just returned from serving in the South Pacific during WWII and arrive by train to Union Station in Kansas City. Hungry from the journey, he and his friend stopped by the ice cream fountain for a drink and snack and there stood Kay behind the counter.
"I said, "That's my woman," Naco said.
Nacho stayed until the fountain closed and asked Kay on a date-they stopped by the penny arcade.
"We can't do without each other," he told Northeast News.
Asked what he likes about Kay, Nacho flashed on onery look and said, "She's a woman."
"I call her chicken little."
Kay looked over at Nacho and smiled.
For a little over a year, Kay has been struggling with Alzheimer's disease and most of the time she doesn't remember her husband.
"She'll sit in the front room and look at me like, 'Who are you?' But, that's part of life," Nacho said. "We've had some good years together, a lot of good years."
Asked what he's enjoyed about being married, he said, companionship, love and family. Together, they've raised three children.
"It's been such a peaceful marriage we've had. We haven't had many fights," he said.
For Nacho and Kay, one of the keys to a successful marriage is trust.
"She trusts me and I trust her. We take care of each other," he said. "I still love her a lot."
Joann and Bill Russell, 50 years of marriage
Bill and Joann were high school sweethearts and began dating their sophomore year.
"She was walking into the class in a beautiful dress and just caught my eye. She was very pretty."
Eventually, he asked her out. Asked what she like about Bill, Joann looked at him and said, "I liked everything about you."
Even when Joann moved away their Junior year, they continued to date.
"She was the one," Bill said.
For three years, they dated and finally married.
"The first year all i did was read westerns and what not, so that wasn't her idea of being married," Bill said.
Joann said she didn't like washing laundry, so Bill took over that job.
"He worked very hard," she said.
Joann said she's liked "everything" about being married and credited Bill for his patience and slow-to-anger attitude. (She also likes his hair).
Their marriage advice?
"Try not to get too angry with each other," she said.
"If your spouse is happy, essentially you're happy," Bill added.
Another key is praying for each other and offering forgiveness, Joann said.
"Before you get married you need to determine it's a lifelong thing and make it work," Bill said. "You've got to care about each other and do things that won't upset them. You have to be like-minded to make a marriage work and last a lifetime."
Lucy and Jose Torres, 59 year of marriage
Lucy and Jose met at work in a Nebraska beet field.
Both of them topped off beets, working for the same farmer. During one of the farmer's picnics, they finally met. Lucy wasn't super impressed, but her interest grew as she got to know him.
"We both liked to dance. That was our entertainment," she said. "Everybody used to get together and dance to records."
They listened to "Mexican music" and danced the waltz, polka, cha-cha and mambo.
"He was a good dancer," she said. He was better than me."
Lucy fell in love with Jose's since of humor.
"He was always joking and he still does," she said.
In 1952, work dried up in Nebraska as machines took over the jobs.
"All he said was, 'We have to get married if we want to leave Nebraska.'
And that, was that.
Since marrying, they've raised nine children together.
"I've always believed in family," she said.
Asked what kept them together through the years, Lucy credited their strong Catholic faith and their belief in marriage vows.
"God never gives you more than you can handle," she said.
Four years ago, Jose suffered a stroke and can no longer verbalize his feelings aloud, but he still smiles at her with adoration and understands every word she says.
To make a marriage work, it requires perserverance, fidelity, hard work and patience, she said.
"Don't get discouraged with setbacks or when things go wrong," she said. "Keep your love alive by remembering the love you started with. That's it right there."