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A handful of love stories for the Okanagan

Sometimes love has a season, for others it
Sometimes love has a season, for others it's a lifetime affair, but when it strikes it has a way of turning into a story like no other that we often like to share.
— image credit: Contributed

When Tyler Czuba and Alexandra Kozak pick up the newspaper to find their love story in print, they will be preparing to say, "I do."

The young couple met on Facebook, on a fanpage for the professional hockey team he plays for in Miskolc, Hungary. It was "the most likely of places," he contends.

Admittedly, for their generation, connecting virtually seems as natural as finding love in a speakeasy would have been for a flapper. Yet the day they have selected to tie the knot is one auspicious square on the calendar. Numerologists believe Valentine's Day 2014 is the best time for nuptials in 600 generations.

The explanation is a little complex, but basically the two, as in the second month of the calendar year, represents romance and the 14 is connected to new experiences. In combo, the number 214 is said to reflect an introspective time and this period of inner reflection is also represented by the number 2014, a rare double-whammy of numerological fates not seen for another 18,000 years.

Whether one goes in for this sort of mysticism or not, there's no denying Czuba and Kozak have beat the odds to make it down the aisle today.

In 2008, London graduate student Peter Backus wrote a paper: "Why I Don't Have A Girlfriend." According to Backus, his chances of finding an educated woman he would find attractive without going abroad were 1-in-285,000. This meant 26 women in the U.K. qualified.

Thankfully for him, the equation for finding love doesn't hinge on impossible quandaries like assigning a numerical value to physical attraction. He was married last May. And as Cupid's arrow does strike more often than lightening, finding a few local love stories to share on this universally romantic day was equally simple.

A lifetime of love —by Marie Rolfe

Marie and Jim RolfeElvis sang a song, Can’t Help Falling in Love, and that was the way it was for my sweetheart and I.

We met in high school. I was the new girl in town and it was love at first sight.

We dated for three years and were married in the month of June. We had a modest wedding in the church chapel. My landlady baked our wedding cake.

The toast to the bride was offered with juice and our honeymoon was a few days on a nearby island, by way of a 40-minute launch trip in the pouring rain.

Not very fancy, extravagant or magical, you say? Even so, our love has survived over six decades and we’re still in love today. We have shared countless ups and downs in the longevity of our years. Nevertheless, it’s the many exquisite moments we’ve shared that we cherish and reminisce about, giving thanks.

Our abiding legacy is two daughters, five grandchildren and four great grandchildren. They are all gifts given to treasure and be proud of.

Like excellent wine that has been aged with care, the maturing process has made us more devoted, tender and supportive of each other. That’s the secret of our everlasting love story.

In addition, we’ve been faithful to the many promises we made to each other on our wedding day and have grown in grace, with thankful hearts. We consider ourselves to be greatly blessed and look forward to celebrating our 65th wedding anniversary in June of this year.

Everlasting sisterly love

Paule Monde wrote in to say the love of her sister has carried her through. When she was born, her then 13-year-old sister was thrilled to have a little girl to care for after fondly looking over two brothers.

The pair were separated when the older sister moved away at age 18, but living on the opposite end of the country didn’t prevent her from helping with one of the most difficult periods of Paule’s life. When Paule tried to get pregnant, losing all the pregnancies, her big sister was there, calling every day. “My sister took me on a trip to show me that life could be still beautiful,” she wrote.

Today, they send 12 gifts for the 12 days of Christmas to each other and save their cherished birthday cards. “She made me feel valuable and needed, but most of all loved,” she said.

Love has a season —by Jennifer Smith

Carrie HarperAll week Carrie Harper watched as customers filed into her business, heART school on Bernard Avenue, looking for hand-crafted Valentines.

The love of her life has recently stepped away from her world, both professionally and personally, and recovery has understandably doused her spirit.

A love story doesn’t have to last forever, in her eyes, so she nonetheless agreed to share the whirlwind romance that swept her off her feet and helped develop the career and community she had envisioned.

“This was everything I ever wanted in a love story—the companionship and the way we worked so well together…

“He loved this place,” she said, casting a gaze around the avant-garde network of studios in the school. “He loved this place and he loved the house we were in and, if he truly did give up all of that because he thought I would be better off, then that’s self-sacrificing, I think.

“Maybe, as disappointing as that is, sometimes that’s what love looks like, too.”

Harper and her beau met at an event for a visiting author. If there is such a thing as love at first sight, this was it.

“When I handed him the ticket, I just got a, I don’t know if you call it a message or what, but I just knew that we were going to be together and we were going to do something really exciting,” she said.

It took two weeks for him to call, but from the moment he did, sparks flew. They talked, they walked, they touched, they kissed. When he opened the trunk of his car and an old leather jacket, banjo, broken Mac laptop computer and wooden pipe were sitting inside, Harper knew she had found her mate.

“He is so amazing. A banjo, a leather jacket, a pipe and a Mac; he’s like the perfect man to me,” she said.

The pair are painters and he is a musician. Over the course of the next year and a half, they would create the school and renovate a house. He would establish himself artistically in his new community with her help. She would draw on his energy to launch the most productive period of her career, realizing her the vision for the school and pushing for a new artistic landscape in the valley.

They had shows. They hosted parties. They got a puppy. And then, mysteriously, they broke up.

“We were both in long-term marriages before, so you know there’s always that piece in the back of your mind that you bring to the new relationship. A lot of the stuff that’s unresolved from the past—the hurts, the reservations you have,” she said.

In the six months before the end, Harper got divorced.She moved from her parents’ farm, purging a lifetime with another man. His belongings. Her belongings. The accoutrement of a four-person existence, two babies and baggage.

She got sick. They noticed their differences. She needed commitment. He seemed to pull back. From her vantage, it doesn’t feel over.

“He’s so much in this space. He did all the floors and he chose the colour of all the furniture. On the other side of the fridge is one of his cartoon drawings and it’s all hidden. Musically, he’s a genius…and painter, drawer, visionary. Just an amazing human being. But I think with that kind of genius also comes fragility.”

Sometimes love has a season, she adds. She still isn’t sure it’s the end.

A second time around can be  beautiful

Karen Boyle wrote to share how a second marriage doesn’t mean second best.

“We were so excited and yet at the same time, we were scared to death…Traditional vows were read. Our gaze held steadily. The love that shone in Bill’s eyes let me know we were doing the right thing. As he held my trembling hands, I promised my love to him forever,” she said.

That was over 20 years ago and they have since renewed their vows.

“Two of our precious grandsons led us down a rooftop aisle covered in beautiful rose petals. We knew nothing about this surprise vow renewal ceremony. We were deeply touched by the kindness and surprised that the boys could keep such a secret,” she wrote.

Bill has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Sixteen months after reading those vows, they are still fighting for every moment together.

“I wish I could suffer for him,” she said. “…I would like to thank him for sharing his life, love and laughter with me.”

Wedding day surprise —by Tyler Czuba

weddingI, Tyler, was just signed to a professional hockey team in Miskolc, Hungary, and was then added to a Facebook fanpage for the team.

I was very excited and checked out the Facebook page and, while I was looking, I saw that there was a girl added to the page on the same day—so I decided to send her a message and see if she spoke any English.

I was so happy when she replied back and, not only did she speak English, but she was very, very beautiful. We started talking back and forth for a few months, leaving each other long messages and Skyping, even though the time difference was so tough. We did this every day and night until I was to arrive in Hungary.

When I arrived, we were so excited to see each other as our relationship had grown over the months being halfway around the world from each other.

The year went by fast as we had fallen in love.

Since hockey was over, I asked Alexandra to come back home with me to Canada. This was very exciting for both of us, but hard for her as she had to leave her life and family behind.

Every morning of our new life, I brought Alexandra a coffee in bed to wake her up, then on the morning we moved into our first home in Canada, I brought her a ring. I was down on one knee with the diamond and the coffee and she said yes.

There was still a little sadness because Alexandra had to return to Hungary to finish her degree.

For the five months of separation our love grew even stronger. I figured we might as well have our wedding on the best day possible, picked a venue and sent her the date.

Alexandra and Tyler will be married today.

Singing a love song

Dawn Keep didn’t expect to feel her heart fluttering once more, but wrote to say she has found a new love who respects her and cares for her in a very big way.

“The man of my dreams and the love of my life was born on my birthday,” she wrote.

It’s also her mother’s birthday, so their serendipitous connection, made over a drink at Tonic’s Pub a year ago, is all that more pleasing.

“All the love songs seem to make perfect sense now for the first time in my life,” she said. “…Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all a bed of roses, but I am living the good life and appreciate every moment I can spend together with my soulmate and forever love.”

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