EDITOR’S NOTE: In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, The News reached out to some of the local nursing homes and asked to speak with couples who had been married for a long time about their relationship and what’s made it work. The following is a glimpse of what they had to say about their own relationships.
By Adam MacInnis
They may disagree about which band was playing the night they first met at the IOOF Hall in Stellarton, but Joyce Battist is certain of one thing the night she met her husband Keith.
“It was the first person who asked me to dance that could dance,” she said.
She recalls he was handsome and at 6 feet 2 inches made her feel short at 5’8”.
Keith doesn’t recall if he was nervous or not asking her to dance, but remembers how well suited they seemed together.
“We sort of struck it off,” said Keith.
It was the beginning of a lifetime of dancing.
They dated for six months and still laugh about how Joyce’s cat one time stowed away in his car after a date and he had to drive back to return it.
At their wedding more than 55 years ago Joyce wore a white dress with lace and ruffles on the back.
She says she can’t recall all the details, “but I remember what we did on our honeymoon – watched the World Series,” she said with a laugh.
Sports was more of Keith’s interest (he was a physical education teacher at West Pictou for many years), but they always found lots in common they could do together over the years.
In the early years of the marriage they often went camping with their kids. They had two daughters and two foster sons. Later in life the couple spent their winters travelling to Florida where they bought a place to stay.
One of Keith’s favourite memories is taking their grandkids to Walt Disney World.
And up until recent health problems took away Keith’s mobility, they danced whenever they could together.
Keith recently moved into Glen Haven Manor, but Joyce visits regularly. Lately they’ve been talking about the Olympics together and on Valentine’s will enjoy a special dinner with music that Glen Haven is hosting.
Joyce doesn’t believe there’s any special secret to a long and happy marriage.
“You just do it” she says. “You just go from day to day. Some days are better than others.”
And that’s just what they’ve done for more than half a century of good days and bad days.
Another couple in Pictou County who have seen their relationship stand the test of time is Bruce and Eleanor Heighton who currently share a room at Valley View Villa in Riverton.
They have been married for 62 years now.
They met while he was working for a plumbing company in Pictou and she was working at the department of health office in town.
“I’ve known her ever since,” says Bruce.
They were married at the Durham Presbyterian Church and went up to her parent’s 15-room home for a reception.
Eleanor’s dress had a hoop skirt bottom to it.
“I suppose they don’t even wear those today,” she says.
One of their favourite things to do together was to go dancing and a favourite place was at the Pictou Lodge.
“We were real good dancers,” said Bruce.
“We used to do the old-time waltz together,” said Eleanor.
People dressed up fancy in those days, says Bruce, with women wearing formal dresses and the guys wearing tuxes.
Asked what are some tips for a good marriage, Bruce said they always enjoyed their vacations.
“I think we travelled when we were young, which is the time to go,” he said. “We went down south and some of those places.”
Much has changed since the time they first met, but one thing has stayed consistent: their love for each other.