There are all kinds of love stories, but few are as enduring and reaffirming and yes, even inspiring, as the tale of Lena Henderson and Roland Davis of West Seneca.
They are not, to be frank, your typical newlyweds, but when they join hands Saturday at the age of 85, there will be a sense of fulfillment, maybe even restoration, among the four generations on hand to see it happen.
This is their second time around - they married each other as teenagers but later divorced. And now, after nearly 50 years apart, they are marrying again. Their decision to do so will in many ways officially reunite Davis with the family he always loved.
"I always thought it might happen," he said. "It was always in the back of my mind. We're just thankful that we could get back together."
Even more surprising than their age and separation ... they divorced in 1964 ... is the ease with which they came to their decision.
OK, there may have been a little nudge from their oldest daughter, Johnnie Mae Funderbirk, but they have always been friendly during their years apart.
Even after Davis remarried, Henderson would call and talk with his new wife, often providing counsel on how to deal with him.
"I think we just kept thinking about each other all the time, even though we were so far apart," she says of her soon to be ex-ex-husband.
Even now, there's a youthfulness to their relationship, a sense that they want desperately to make each other happy after all this time.
Davis freely admits that he worried about losing the engagement ring he had bought and says he took extra precautions on his flight to Buffalo from Colorado Springs, where he was living.
"I had it pinned to my T-shirt," he says. "That was a pretty important ring."
When they're together, she laughs at his jokes and he smiles whenever she talks about his previous wife and her habit of calling Henderson for advice.
"I was an important guy," he said with a laugh.
The wedding is only a week away, and yet Henderson still seems genuinely surprised when Davis talks openly of the woman he's known and cared about for nearly 70 years.
They met as teenagers in Chattanooga, Tenn., and after marrying had four children together. Even after their divorce 20 years later, they stayed in touch as Davis, a career military man, traveled across the world.
"The way they would act to each other never indicated there was anything but a friendship between them," says Renita Chadwick, their youngest daughter. "My mother never had a harsh or contrary word to say about my Dad, and my Dad never had anything but loving remarks to make about my mother."
So how does all that translate into a second attempt at marriage, especially after so many years apart?
Davis' previous wife died several months ago and Funderbirk, worried about him being alone in Colorado, began urging him to come back East and reconnect with Henderson and the rest of the family.
At some point, the notion of returning home - Henderson moved here about 30 years ago - turned to something much more serious.
"We were talking on the phone one day and he said, 'Will you marry me again?" Henderson said.
She acknowledges waiting a few seconds to answer but says it was more out of fun than uncertainty.
"I said well, well ... yes," she said.
Since then, it's been nothing but a roller coaster ride of memorable moments.
"Every person I share this story with smiles, cries or laughs," says Chadwick.
When they went for a marriage license at Buffalo City Hall last week, they found an office full of workers cheering them on.
"They kept saying 'way to go Roland, way to go,'?" Davis says.
The big event is Saturday at Elim Christian Fellowship Church in Central Park Plaza and four generations of family - many of them serving in the wedding party - will be on hand.
The bride will wear a steel blue dress, the groom a black tuxedo.
It will be, by all accounts, an affair to remember and, in the eyes of both Henderson and Davis, a chance to thank God for reuniting them after all these years.
"You don't think people are going to get married at this age," Davis says. "We're just thankful we've lived this long and that we're still here. We have a lot to be thankful for."
He firmly believes God had a hand in this .
"I think he always does," Davis says.
And he believes there's a reason why he and his ex-wife are finally getting back together. He also knows it's chance to be a family again.
"I don't know of a child that does not want their parents to be together forever," Chadwick says. "That's the dream man. That's the dream. That's wholeness. It's restoration. It's all the wonderful things that anybody wants."
Before I read the article, I thought it was going to be a case of "Oh well I thought you were terrible, but turns out the grass isn't greener over here, and you're as good as I'm going to do, so let's get remairried"
But i was wrong!
It's more a case of "My other wife that I liked enough to stay with for longer died, and I still don't know now to take care of myself and be alone. You probably weren't as bad as I remember, so how about we get married and you cook me dinner"
I think Aurora's kind of right. It's clearly what the daughter had in mind. And the neighbor is kind of right, too. The internet lets you see how many pathetic, people-hating, poor-me, forever-alones there are out there.
A lot changes in 48 years especially what you find important in a mate. They obviously loved and cared about each other because they stayed in touch and I think his family genuinely wanted him back with his family when his wife died, so that he wouldn't be alone. I don't think that he wanted someone to take care of him. You guys seem so cynical.
On the other hand, I 100% agree that "the internet lets you see how many pathetic, people-hating, poor-me, forever-alones there are out there." I just deleted my profile on an online dating site for just that reason. Ugh.
They didn't say love doesn't exist - they said this old fart needs somebody to take care of him. What was said was happiness doesn't exist. Anybody in a LTR knows that love does not equal happiness, necessarily.
Love and happiness most assuredly do not go hand in hand and anybody that pretends this is so is full of it. It's actually hard work and requires constant care. Ask any of the 70% of the population about to divorce just how much it goes hand in hand, why don't you?
Anon, I think what you mean to say is "Marriage and happiness most assuredly do not go hand in hand and anybody that pretends this is so is full of it. It's actually hard work and requires constant care."
Yes and no. Not everybody can or chooses to marry but lives under its auspices and that doesn't change the fact that it's work. I shouldn't have mentioned divorce specfically, you got me there. But it does reflect that love and happiness aren't guaranteed to go great together, like peanut butter and chocolate does.
Lots of happy people in love don't stay that way. Look, Appy, it's pretty apparent that you are a stay at home person so putting your husband first isn't all that difficult. I hope he puts your first, like you say, but what Aurora said carries some weight. Any man would love to have his meals cooked, his house clean, his clothes washed, his guests entertained, without having to lift a finger and when that's all you have to do, well, it's easy(er) to keep somebody happy. Right? Right.
Maybe I'm cynical, but I posted this because I thought the same as Aurora.
If there was any real love left in him, he would have come back years ago.
I have no doubt that she remained in love with him, tho.
And I also agree with neighbor. Nobody can be "happy" 100% of the time, happiness is about having more happy moments than unhappy or just "regular" ones... We have periods of happiness in our lives, moments of tragedy, moments of sadness. The trick is to focus on happier times and have a positive mind.
Happiness doesn't necessarily mean "being happy all the time". Of course nobody is happy every waking second of every living day of their life. Maybe Jewish Ninjas kidnap your Schnauzer and ransom him for chicken patties, or you spill coffee on your Pajama Jeans on the way to Big Lots. Naturally, you're going to be devastated. Temporarily.
It's a generality. An overall wellness of being that transcends (or simply weathers) the many trivial setbacks and crises we're bound to experience. Yes, there's such a thing as happiness.
Ok, funny guy. There is such a thing as happiness, but like the poor coffee-stained fat lady, the emotion is fleeting. Most of us sit around in a slightly uncomfortable state of ennui. Looking at the same cud-chewer (male or female, depending on your particular bent) for 20 years only adds to this.
I think that most people that aren't on their way to the funny farm (or a newlywed) would agree. Let's take a poll: who's A) so goddamned happy it's going to take a chisel to remove the frigging smile from your face, and who's B) sort of generally ok but life's a bitch most of the time. No lying! Appalled, I'm looking at you.
Aww. I hope you aren't already letting people suck the joy out of you. Whoever said you're overposting is full of it - this place has been hobbling along on 14 posts a day for months, with only the occasional lively thread (usually around Squid deleting something). You're breating life in here! Come on, Sheriff!
Didn't I just explain that the idea of happiness doesn't necessarily mean that you spend each day braiding Unicorn manes? Am I on the right website? How, exactly, did you translate "overall wellness of being" into "maniacal jubilance"?
I'd have to say I'm pretty happy, overall. Could I be happier, yes very easily.
Whenever I think about happiness, I remember some poll I read some years back that when you ask people what they wish they had more of in this life, the vast majority does NOT say, "More money," "More stuff," "A bigger (house, car, penis)" or whatever - most say, 'More time with my loved ones/family.'
Seems to me that this is the most basic and central thing that is fucked up about modern society. We spend more time eeking out a living than our hunter-gatherer predecessors did! They had time to kick back above and beyond just feeding their pie holes! Yet somehow with all of these technological amenities, we have to spend more and more time working for the man to survive!
I just want to be home playing with my kids, pretty much all the time. My job doesn't suck, I'm not unhappy here, except insofar as I'd rather be there. Now that I have such a great family, I can't imagine there ever being a job I'd like more than my family. But, maybe that's just me, or a class of folks like me. I don't want to change out anything about my life, just the proportions of each part of it really.
Here, the first line of Anna Karenina comes to mind, "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Since I agree that's probably true in real life, maybe the reasons for unhappiness are so varied that there's no solving it.
So then, in this case, Appy is our Princess Buttercup, and her husband is our Wesley.
BOO! BOO! Bow down to the Queen of Putrescence! BOO! BOO!
No, Tam, that was a jab at me, yet I can't understain why. I read here daily, yet post so infrequently, should I be thrilled I have an Anon?
Part of Squids post had me teary -- the part where he wishes he was at home. I think he is so thankful for what he has, I bet he is a fantastic hubby & Dad.
That is all -- oh, and Anon? Nope, but I will be on Jekyll in 2 weeks. Are you keeping up with your spreadsheet? My new golf cart just arrived, but I have yet to get a licsence plate -- do you want the tag #?
Sigh. srsly? Go back to Squid's post and see where he posted about trying to eek (should have been eke) out a living. A minor point, but totally between Tam and Squid. She busted him on a very minor grammar technicality. Eek, a mouse, eek, a living. It was funny until it had to be explained.
Skelsea was responding to the anon comment about her being "on Jekyll yet". I guess she is moving to Jekyll Island (I am guessing) and anon knew about it and was accusing her of being one of the anons. SHe thought Tam's post was in response to that comment since it was right below. No need to get panty wadded.