Successful, long-term relationships often have many of the same ingredients: commitment, selflessness, and genuine goodwill.
In addition, every couple seems to have their own unique “special sauce,” that mysterious, ineffable essence that buoys them through thick and thin.
This Valentine’s Day the Standard caught up with three local couples to get the story of their love.
Lori & Sam Anderson
As told by Lori Anderson:
Sam and I met when we were introduced by my best friend. I was not looking for romance. I was a single mother of two young sons. We did not have a date until I had known him about a year.
He kept asking my friend to mention him to me, to see if I would be interested in going out with him. She hesitated because she knew I was focused on my children, but he continued to ask her and finally she talked to me about it.
I told her that I would think about it and after a few days I told her that I would go out with him one time -- and if it worked, fine, and if it didn’t that was OK too. We will have been married 23 years May 9. We dated for approximately three months, got engaged in April 1997, and married in May.
Life has not always been easy, but he has always been the best and always has treated me and my children with respect and love. He is my best friend and I can’t imagine or remember life without him.
We always do something for Valentine’s Day. It can be anything from going out to a really nice restaurant to just sitting home watching “The Waltons.” We love vacationing in Tybee Island or in the Smoky Mountains. Time together, and with our families and church families, are what our life is all about. Family and God come first!
Junior & Penny Medley
Local residents Junior and Penny Medley met when they were both 18. They have been together for 41 years and will be married 40 years on Aug. 29 of this year.
Southern Standard: Why do you think you have been able to make it as a couple?
Penny: Honestly, in the beginning I think it was pure determination to make our marriage work. As all young couples, we struggled with all that life throws at you. We found out that growing up is hard! But one year turned into another, and then another. So, here we are today, still married with a beautiful and loving family, and thanking God for all his many blessings because we know he’s the source of what we have.
SS: What are the things that you like the most about your husband?
Penny: Anyone who knows Junior knows that being around him is never boring. He has such a funny sense of humor so our children and grandchildren always look forward to our family gatherings. He never fails to stand up for what he thinks is right, no matter who that might offend. He is a devoted dad and Popsie! The secret about him is that he will cry watching sad movies or documentaries.
SS: How does your husband show his appreciation for you?
Penny: He cooks my breakfast every morning while I get ready for work. There’s no reason for me to list anything else. That’s simply the best.
SS: What have been your happiest times so far as a couple?
Penny: Obviously, the births of our children and grandchildren are first on our list as the happiest moments. God has blessed us with three children and five grandchildren that fill our lives with happiness. My favorite trip was our family camping trip to Tims Ford Lake for Thanksgiving. I’m quite certain it was the best Thanksgiving of all times.
SS: What are the things you like doing together as a couple?
Penny: We love sports, camping, and going to the lake.
But our favorite thing is watching our grandchildren participating in what they love doing, whether that is sports, pageants, fishing or hunting. The simple times are the best.
SS: How do you and your husband celebrate Valentine’s Day?
Penny: Maybe we have gotten old and boring. We stay home and cook. No big celebration … just us together.
Landon & Slyvia Cantrell
Landon and Sylvia Cantrell have logged an impressive 64 years of marriage. Landon first saw Sylvia in June of 1955, when she was walking to McGee’s Grocery on Walker Street in McMinnville.
Subsequently, Landon requested a female friend act as an emissary to gauge Sylvia’s interest in going on a date. The friend obliged, arranged a date for Landon and Sylvia, and then found herself on the outs, as Landon’s free time thereafter was spent with his girlfriend.
Sylvia says there are several reasons their marriage has remained strong for so long. They include a shared religious faith and common interests like following Atlanta Braves baseball. She also says Landon’s demeanor and personality have helped.
“Landon is easygoing, laid-back, easy to be around,” she says, and mentions that he pays her frequent compliments too, on everything from her cooking to her appearance.
For his part Landon says, “I thought she was awful pretty” in 1955 when they were teenagers, and he indicates he still thinks so now.
When not watching Braves baseball and attending church at Central Church of Christ, the Cantrells enjoy watching films. He likes Westerns and she likes Hallmark movies. “Everything is nice” in those films, she says.
They also like to go fishing. Landon casts while Sylvia stays in the boat and reads a book.
The Cantrells have already made provisions for the hereafter. They have bought plots and will be buried together at DeKalb Memorial Gardens in Smithville next to the highway. “We’ll watch the cars go by,” Sylvia says.
Landon and Sylvia do not do anything special these days to celebrate Valentine’s Day, though they used to exchange Valentine’s cards and candy in years past. Nowadays, they are content to enjoy each other’s company. “We’re very old-school,” Sylvia says.