Seniors come together for annual V- Day Luncheon
by Ariana Cherry
It is said that love is the tie that binds relationships. At the Sixth Annual Senior Valentine’s Day Luncheon and Poetry Contest Friday, area seniors and citizens reflected on spouses, either living or past, parents, and family in an afternoon full of food, desserts, and poetry.
“We talked about any problems that we had. So if there was a misunderstanding, we solved it right then and there. That’s what made it possible,” said Wilma Wilhelm of her 65-year marriage with Gilbert Ray. “He passed away at 93 five years ago. He was the best one that I ever had,” she gushed. While it was clear that Wilhelm missed her spouse deeply, she did get to share the special event with her son Roger. He attested to the facts of his mother’s story simply by smiling and nodding as he sat by her side.
Sometimes people get a second chance at love. Charles and June Hutchcraft’s 22-year marriage is proof to that. Charles had married once but had separated while June’s former spouse had passed away. The second chance came through local restaurant the Red Apple where Charles frequented and often saw June.
“I had known her husband and had been friends with him so I gave her a call. It’s all history from there!” he said.
Smiling, June replied, “The key to a lasting relationship is all about loving and caring for each other.” The couple has been attending the luncheon since it began six years ago and said they always look forward to seeing all of their friends.
Some marriages have lasted so long that it’s often forgotten how the romance started in the first place. While all in good fun, one couple who moved to Sullivan a year ago after living in Lovington in the same home for 50 years, Freeman and Lucille Wildman, could not agree whether or not they met on the school bus all of those years ago. But they did agree on one thing: that their first date was January 17, 1945.
“Having five kids and giving up 75 percent when there is a disagreement is what made it last,” joked Freeman. Then, he cautiously added, poking fun at Lucille, “The woman gives up 99.9%!”
“True love is what makes a marriage last,” she added.
While a few brave couples offered their advice to what makes a relationship work, there were also those who shared their personal stories by entering poems in the poetry contest.
Of the several poems, the judges admitted it was difficult to choose a winner.
“It’s hard when everyone is so talented,” commented judge Holly Alendorf.
As an opening to the contest, Walden Brown read poems written by Mush Shirey who passed in February 2011.
In “AP 51 and 35 Men,” Shirey wrote of the relationships and bonds shared with his former soldiers during the war. The poem then goes on to describe the importance of protecting and saving each other in the verse: “32 men were lost….but they saved my life…”
Bonds may also form within the walls of an assisted living center as shared by first place winner Lucille Fultz’s poem, “Courtyard Baby.”
Fultz described the pending birth of a baby girl that one of the CNA’s at Courtyard Estates would soon deliver. She spoke of the excitement shared between the soon to be “adoptive grandmothers” and how they couldn’t wait to see and hold the Courtyard baby. While the ladies were not “blood relatives,” it was all about the love that would bond them and the baby together. “Love is the tie that binds,” a verse stated from Fultz’s poem. Coincidentally, the baby about which Fultz had written had been born earlier that morning at 12:07 a.m.
For some, the love of the game is what makes their heart tick. Second place Harry McCorkle’s poem,”The Golf Cart,” spoke about his love for golf and while he dearly enjoyed it, he did need a reminder every now and then that it indeed was only a game. One day after some frustrating rounds, he hopped back into his cart, only to find Jesus riding along side him offering him the simple reminder that there was much more to life.
While love may bring great joy, it can also deliver pain with heartfelt memories.
Third-place winner, Patti Peterson, wrote, “My Pops,” a tribute to her father-in-law who had passed away unexpectedly. With tears, she read her special tribute, declaring the love and special bond that they shared.
“It was great to see so many area seniors come out and share this special event with us,” said Courtyard Estates Director Erika Piper. “It is something we look forward to hosting with Deb Groendal and Mid-Illinois Senior Services every year.”