Love for a Lifetime

Posted on February 1, 2008

My husband never sends me flowers. Not even on Valentine’s Day. The reason? I’m allergic! But it hasn’t always been that way. There was a time when I could enjoy a bouquet of fragrant roses sitting on my dining room table. But the good news is that I can still enjoy those beautiful heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and a card with loving sentiments. I hope Carl remembers!

But speaking of sweet confections, I want to tell you about some friends of mine whose long relationship started with a candy bar.

John and Verene Thomas met when they were in the sixth grade. Verene’s family had moved from her hometown of Carnegie to Eldorado, Oklahoma, about 100 miles away. It wasn’t long until Verene noticed a nice looking boy riding his bike past her house every day, but he never stopped to talk. Finally, the shy young man asked a friend to take Verene a candy bar during recess at school and ask her if she liked him. Twelve-year-old Verene told his friend that of course she liked John—if he had candy.

So began a seventy-year relationship. The two became inseparable friends, writing notes to each other in class. The teacher would read the notes aloud when she confiscated them, but John and Verene didn’t care. “We just wrote silly things,” said Verene. On Sunday afternoons they usually played ball with friends at someone’s house. Throughout their high school years the couple dated, going to skating parties and other socials together. But three years after moving to Eldorado, Verene’s family moved back to Carnegie. By that time the couple had become sweethearts and neither wanted to be apart.

John’s father allowed him to drive to Carnegie about one weekend a month to see Verene. He always took along his sister or even a carload of friends when he visited. Verene’s mother never knew how many kids to expect that weekend, but she knew she could always count on John being with them. On other occasions, John and his friends would pick up Verene in Carnegie and go to the Easter Pageant near Lawton or to Medicine Park to skate or swim.

Upon graduation, John headed off to college at what was then Oklahoma A&M to become an architect, and Verene took a job in Oklahoma City, often visiting John in Stillwater. They planed to marry when he graduated. But World War II interrupted their lives, and in 1945 John joined the Air Force while Verene continued working. For the next two years the couple kept their relationship alive through airmail letters. Once, from Germany, John sent Verene a picture of an engagement ring that he hoped to give to her soon.

There was never a question about whether the two would eventually marry—only when. Both believed their partners were God-given gifts to them, and not once in their entire lives did John or Verene ever date anyone else. They were sweethearts for life. “He was my one and only boyfriend,” said Verene. John came home from the service on Thanksgiving, 1946. The couple married that following February.

Sixty-one years later, John and Verene are as much in love as they were the day they were married. They are also still best friends with the couple who stood up with them at their wedding as best man and maid of honor. And yes, John became an architect and designed many buildings in Edmond and around Oklahoma, including their own home. The couple raised three children and now have nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

On Valentine’s Day, you can be certain that John will again give Verene candy, just like he did in the sixth grade, but this time he will deliver it himself.

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