February 26, 2011

Long Live the Love - Karen Toews

Roses to say "I love you" when we can't be together on Valentine's Day.

My husband, Derryl, and I have a long love story, in spite of our young ages (honestly - our total is less than 115). It started back in elementary school, when my now-father-in-law was the pastor at our church. Our families shared many visits and meals - and though Derryl and I are the same age (whoops, now you have the age mystery figured out), I spent more time doing girl fun with the younger sisters than with the cute, cool guy who sometimes had the "older brother" attitude. There were the occasional sparks that expressed our mutual attraction and when we were about years old, Derryl gave me a Valentine's card with 6 red cinnamon heart candies taped to it. That wasn't as surprising as the fact his is the only childhood Valentine that I saved; it survived all the years of purging my cupboards and boxes of papers. I still have it.

The preacher's kids have to move when the preacher follows another church call and it was a sad day when we said good-bye to the family. Winnipeg was a world away from this prairie farm girl, and at the age of 12, Derryl's and my long distance friendship lasted about one letter's worth.

A couple summers later, surprise of all surprises, my farmer father agreed to make a road trip (albeit driving 16 hours straight through in one day) to visit Derryl's family. I had looked forward to seeing all of them - but I was definitely disapointed to get there to discover Derryl was away. He had a job picking fruit with his uncle in the Okanagan. The fact this guy had ambition was lost on me - I just thought, what a bummer.

Four years later, another summer trip to Minnesota for a family camp where the preacher and his family had moved. Was it the fact we were both sweet 16; or that I was wowed by Derryl's handsome, tanned and fit body; or that the two of us had a history which the other teenage girls didn't? It was soon evident - the chemistry was there and we spent as much time together that was allowable. It was a true sweet summer romance, topped off with a last-night kiss under a huge oak tree - and it was short - as I was soon back home in Alberta where after a couple notes in the mail our relationship again went dormant.

Three years later. After high school, to avoid conscription to Viet Nam, Derryl moved back to the country of his citizenship. Through his extended family I had heard he was living in Calgary and on my next visit there I phoned him up, cold call. He'll never let me forget that I was the one who contacted him, but this seemed to be our pattern: this time it was the set-up for the proverbial "the rest is history". Two years later we were married, which is now over 37 years ago.

In fun, we accuse our parents of arranging our marriage (my mother-in-law was one of the servers at my parent's wedding) and they just didn't tell us. We do feel that God directed our lives to be together. Like many long-term relationship commitments, ours has been one of challenge, adventure, fun, disappointment, growth and joys of children and grandchildren.

It's been a long love life, one I pray God allows us to continue to share for many years to come.

"Let your own fountain be blessed, and enjoy the girl you married when you were young...." Proverbs 5:18a


  1. 'They' say absence makes the heart grow stronger. What a lovely romantic story, Karen. Thanks for sharing and I love your roses!

  2. Bryan Norford11:31 am GMT-7

    I have to say congratulations--anything longer than ten years is a triumph these days.
    While the youth nearly all want a lifetime of marriage, few make it. But as you have found, surviving and overcoming the difficult times cements and enhances marriage.
    Enjoy the next 115 years!


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