Six years ago, I was working at a restaurant in Saskatoon as a hostess. It was a Saturday afternoon when a man came in with his wife on his arm and walked to their regular table. He ordered a coffee and one of the daily specials. When the meal came, the man asked for a second plate, slowly cut the meal to share and began helping his wife eat. This is the day I began to understand what true love meant. The 86 year old man’s name was Vance and he became a friend of mine as he talked to me each shift, slowly learning about my life and me about his and his beautiful wife and family. She called him “Dear heart” and smiled at him kindly as he held her hand.
I worked there for about a year before I decided to go travelling for two months. When I got back, I began working a new job at a lounge and as I passed by the front restaurant there he was, but this time he was alone. I went up to him to say hi and he told me his wife had passed after suffering two years with dementia. Over the past 6 years, Vance and I have met for lunch every few months and send emails to stay up to date on each other’s lives. Today we met for lunch again and Royce and I talked to him about how he met his wife and how their love story unfolded.
They met at the park by the Bessborough Hotel while she was sitting on a blanket with her friend. He smiled and said to me, “I grabbed her hand and never let it go.” While the romantic in me tried not to cry, I continued to ask about their story. They dated for four years, two of which were long distance (not the long distance like we to do today with Skype, texting, phone calls, and quick weekend visits, the old fashioned kind). He was in England working on planes in the army and they were unable to see or call each other, so they wrote letters every single week. When he came back in a Lancaster bomber, he proposed to her in the park where they met. They were married for 63 years and adored each other. They travelled the world together and when she got sick, he dressed her, put on her make-up and took her out for lunch each day to visit the staff at the various restaurants that had become their friends. On the days where she was confused, he would wait in the car until she was ready and then brought her in. Some days more successful than others but he told me, “It wasn’t her fault, so I was never mad.” He told me how they used to walk down the street holding hands and some women would unroll their car windows and shout how cute they were. He said how it was rare for couples to hold hands back in those days, but that he loved to and always did. Their love was true, rare to find and perfect in every way.
Now 92 years old, Vance continues to visit his select restaurants each day, edits photo slideshows on his 24″ Mac computer, Skype’s on his 3D TV, does 4 flights of stairs a day, and speaks fondly of his beloved wife while he lives in a condo that overlooks the park where he met her that perfect day.
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, love never fails.”