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The Gift Of True Love
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Some days our newspaper space just doesn’t provide enough room for the cast of characters which occupy our zip code.

For those who don’t know me personally, or haven’t caught on from past pieces ... I love my job. When I say ‘love,’ I’m speaking very little of the check which makes its way into my bank account routinely. No. I’m speaking of the opportunity I am given almost every single day to take a glimpse into the lives of others.

Personally, I struggle with the occasional ‘thank you’ card or e-mail acknowledgement for a piece I’ve written. Writing/story telling is my job. The ability I have to do it has little to do with formal education and much to do with a great community and knowledgeable editor. What I write versus what makes print still possess the same spirit and style, the editor, however, works the magic of clean up.

Last week I shared a small bit about Bill and Joanne Parker. A couple, in their 80’s and married for 64 years. The story was focused around their commitment to staying healthy and keeping fit in their ‘golden years.’ There was no way possible I could share in our limited space the love story I was treated to during the hour and a half that we spoke.

As I listened to them, internally I was already struggling. I knew I wanted to pen a piece on their dedication. To show our readers you’re never too old and excuses are exactly that. Yet as they continued to speak, I couldn’t help but wish this were the Valentine’s Day issue.

These two people, 66 years later (from their first date) were still just as smitten with one another.

I’m still amazed and somewhat touched, by the manner in which people trust me. The candidness they share, as I sit across from them with my pen in hand and notebook open. Total candor, such a gift.

There were many moments from that meeting I was unable to fit within their piece. That’s the frustrating part of this job. When a person or couple offers so much great material and you just can’t make it all flow and fit.

So as random as this may be for a column, I’m going to use this space to share a bit more about Bill and Joanne Parker and a few lessons I gained from their love.

During the interview the couple shared that they were set up by a friend. An ex-girlfriend of Bill’s who happened to be Joanne’s roommate. Bootsy (the jilted girlfriend) wanted Joanne to date and dump Bill, a sort of girl power payback.

“I decided I liked him well enough to keep him,” Joanne said of her fondness for Bill.

“She did me a good favor,” Bill said of the set up. “We complement each other. Every once and a while, we’ll talk about how we’re glad we did this because we make a good team.”

“He’s still got it,” Joanne said of her 85-year-old groom.

True love was what I was able to witness that day. Here were two people who met one another in the early heyday of their yet to blossom lives, undeniably smitten with one another.

“Joanne was a real pretty girl,” Bill said of the early days. “She did a lot of things and I was a handsome guy. It worked out good.”

I’m still smiling thinking of the sweet exchange between these young at heart lovers I was able to witness. This couple has it figured out.

Their lives were not perfect. They each worked hard in life and the relationship, as a team to build and secure their future as a team (a couple, partners).

Honestly, I’ll always be a hopeless romantic. I do believe there is someone for everyone.

As the interview was concluding Joanne leaned in and shared a special moment, with this single girl facing life with eyes wide open.

“At the end of the day, every afternoon he says ‘thank your for taking care of me today’,” Joanne shared, choking back tears. “Isn’t that so sweet?”

This couple offered this reporter that renewed belief that yes indeed, love is alive and real, regardless of age or calendar month. What a gift.


Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.