How did you fall in love?

Today is my husband, Gary’s, birthday. It’s also our wedding anniversary. If cancer had not stolen him from me, we would be celebrating forty-five years of marriage.

In Fredrick Backman’s novella And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer, a young boy asks his grandfather a question about his grandmother: “How did you fall in love with her?”


Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash


From the novella:

“She got lost in my heart, I think. Couldn’t find her way out. Your grandma always had a terrible sense of direction. She could get lost on an escalator.”

And then comes his laughter, crackling and popping like it’s smoke from dry wood in his stomach. He puts an arm around the boy.

“Never in my life have I asked myself how I fell in love with her … Only the other way around.”

I’ve often asked new friends: “How did you two meet and fall in love?”

It was always fun to hear Gary tell our love story with that twinkle in his eye and his cute grin — you know, the one where he’s trying not to smile.

Here’s how he’d tell it:

My sister invited this cute hippie girl to our family reunion. We stayed up late each night, talking at the campfire. She was going to Europe for a year, so I asked if we could write. I looked forward to every letter. (I kept all hers, but she tossed mine; she said it had something to do with weight limits on luggage, but I’m not sure I believe her.)

After flying back to California to see her parents, she was passing through Denver on her way to Iowa to take care of her grandmother. I asked if she could stop for the weekend. I picked her up at the airport on a Friday, and on Saturday, we had our first date.

Afterwards, I drove her to my aunt and uncle’s house. We sat in the driveway, talking. I knew if I didn’t take the plunge now, I might never see her again. And so I asked her to marry me.

When Gary proposed, it was the last thing I expected. Wait … what?!

But the smartest thing I ever did was say, Yes.

We went from being pen pals to being engaged. We completely skipped the boyfriend/girlfriend stage.

And then we got married and lived happily ever after. And if there ever were any disagreements, or unhappiness, or tension, they would be mainly attributed to me. Because Gary was the kindest husband on the planet.

This is a man who would do anything for me. (Well, except homesteading in Alaska back in the 70s when I tried to talk him into doing this crazy thing and good for him that he didn’t give in because we knew absolutely nothing about surviving the Alaska wilds.)


Taken six weeks before Gary died of cancer; photographer Kris Johnson


This magical thought from Beth Moore:

The wonder of long-term relationships is that fragile pieces prone to part instead of hold fast. Don’t take them for granted. Marvel over the miracle of long-time loves and friendships.

I’m not on the hunt for a new husband, but with four years of widowhood behind me, my heart is open for someone to find me.

And although I’m sure I took Gary for granted far too frequently, I can’t imagine not marveling over the miracle of sharing a new life with a new best friend, enjoying road trips together, hiking and snow-shoeing and kayaking, sitting leisurely on a cabin porch overlooking tall mountains—coffee and Chai tea in hand—deep in conversation with someone who can finish my sentences.

These things I never want to take for granted. And never will I ask myself how I fell in love with him … only the other way around.


P.S. If you know someone who needs to hear a good love story, please share, tweet or pin!


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  1. tanya NEELON

    we met at work. He had the sexiest half smile that drove me crazy. And he is the best kisser on the planet…..God knew who to send me to make me fulfilled as a woman and a mother.

  2. We met on a blind date when I was 17 years old. We will be married 47 years this November.

  3. Karen Henderson

    I asked him out for our 1st date for Valentines Day. His parents happened to come for the weekend. We both attended a Christian Boarding School. They joined us and it was the “Best Date” ever. We laughed so much. Fell in love with his Parents that night. Took alittle longer for us to know for sure. We were 15 & 16. lol We will be married 49 years in November.

    • I love, LOVE that story, Karen! The bonus gift is the in-laws. You fell in love with his parents, and I fell in love with all Gary’s family before I knew there was another brother in Denver. And those same in-laws treat me like a blood relative, inviting me to all family functions. How blessed are we?!

  4. That IS a wonderful story! I like how you met. Joe and I went to the same high school for one year because he was a senior and I was a freshman. I would frequently hear his name and it stuck out in my head only because the surname was the same as a pro baseball player’s name. It was a huge high school though and I never met him. When I was 30, I was at a restaurant with some friends and I was standing at the bar to get extra napkins and so was he! We started talking and made plans the next day, a Saturday to go on an afternoon drive to upstate NY. We got enagaged AND married within the next 18 months.

    • Marcia, I love the idea of a Saturday afternoon drive as a first date, and I bet you two talked all the way there and back! Eighteen months – sounds as if Joe didn’t want to waste any more time. How many years have you been married?

  5. Wendy Walker

    Dear Marlys
    I love you more with every post or email that you write. What a beautiful love story. Some day I hope to be blessed with the everlasting love of my life.

  6. Lori

    Your love story as told by Gary is so sweet. Isn’t it funny how we can make a decision so quickly without much thought, considering only our feelings and kicking logic to the curb? ?

    We met at work. I decided I wanted to leave New York and move to California and they had a going away party for me. Harry came and he asked me not to leave. He wanted me to stay and start a relationship with him. So I stayed. It was the best decision I could have made. We were married 3 months later. In 5 days we will be married 44 years.

    • I love that Harry had the courage to ask you to stay and start a relationship with him, just as Gary had the courage to propose when he did. Wow, and married three months later (I guess Harry knew what he wanted when he saw it, and didn’t want to waste any more time). Thanks for sharing, Lori!

  7. Oh, Marlys, this is a wonderful post! I met Tim at a University of Oregon dining hall. We were running buddies before we dated… We’ve now been married 38 years. I chuckled at your email with the subject line, “How did you all in love?” At first I thought, “That’s a typo.” But after I read the post, I thought, “No. The subject line is right. Marriage is ALL-IN love – unconditional.” You inspire me to live ALL-IN love with my husband, to return his kindness with more kindness.
    I pray the Lord brings you a new husband to love and to cherish!

    • The subject line was a typo, Lynn, (oops) but I love your thought here: “Marriage is ALL-IN love – unconditional. You inspire me to live ALL-IN love with my husband, to return his kindness with more kindness.” Well said – thank you!

  8. Thank you for sharing that tender love story. I tweeted it! Our story is similar because my husband proposed to me on our first date, right after we ordered dinner. Then we were too excited to eat it. That was almost 49 years ago

  9. What a beautiful tribute to your sweetheart and essay starter. I love hearing people’s love stories and I love telling mine. My husband and I met on e-harmony after we both lost our partners to infidelity. We were both heartbroken and afraid to trust again, but loved being married. We both had friends who pushed us into signing up. We dated backwards – emailing through e-harmony, then through personal email, then graduated to phone calls. After two months we met in person and after that he drove a mile and a half every weekend to come see me. We’ve been married ten years now and he is my dearest friend and love of my life.

    • Good for you, Beth, and your husband, for being brave enough to open your hearts again after unspeakable pain. What a beautiful story of second chances at love!

  10. Pat

    I LOVE reading your weekly BLOG, Marlys.

    We met the summer before my junior year in high school. Back in the day during rodeo week in Fortuna they had a street dance, we danced the night away. It was love at first sight, dated three weeks, little did I know, Chris had just enlisted in the USAF. We wrote love letters during his boot camp. Many hours on the telephone getting to know one another, a couple leaves, we married a year and a half after. I was 17 & Chris was 19, our Mother’s had to go with us to the courthouse and sign for us to marry.
    Last month we celebrated 47 years together! I call it a true BLESSING!

    • Forty-seven years is awesome, Pat. Love letters, and hours on the phone, and mothers’ signatures at the courthouse – what a great story. Thank you for sharing!

  11. Peter

    OK, here’s a male perspective. Barbara was in my class at college, she sat 2 rows in front of me and she never gave off any inclination of interest in me, though I only had eyes for her, so much so, before class, in the class room I would often be heard singing my best impression of Nat King Cole’s ‘When I fall in love’. Then one Saturday, several of the girls in our class, including Barbara came to watch our team play soccer and I got the impression she was interested in someone else in the team, then the ‘cat came out of the bag’…… my best mate, the goal keeper said, ‘It’s you she’s here for’. So her ‘stand offishness’ was really her act. A couple of days later, knowing she/we rode bikes to college, I hung around at the bottom of a hill, waiting for her to come from her home, where she would have to ride up the hill. I caught her up and said, ‘Is it OK if I help you up the hill’, she looked across, smiled & I think she blushed as she said, ‘Sure’. So, that was the start of my arm being around her waist, just about every day until the end of term, as we rode to college. The rest is ‘Our togetherness…. all the time in love.’ Finally, I get to sing, ‘When I fall in love’ often these days and ‘now I know how important my vocal efforts were, back in 1957’, at least I believe it worked. Now you need to hear Barbara’s story…… not sure she will ‘tell it her way’. Our together all in love. God Bless, Peter.

    • Oh, Peter, what a great story, and a great song! (Isn’t it just like us females to be stand-offish when we’re really interested?!) Thank you for sharing. OK, now I want to hear Barbara’s version of your love story!

      • Peter

        I know I should have included the fact that ….. this all happened 61yrs ago, but then again may be you worked it out.
        Thanks Marlys… I’ll see what my Barbara says. Don’t hold your breath too long. Bye, Peter.

  12. Elise Crawford

    I love your story ?
    I believe love can happen twice, 7 years after Marks death, I met a fellow widower, well we were set up actually, 10 years later we married, that was 3 years ago. It was a hard lesson to learn, how love can be stolen away so quickly that this time around, we love each other every day as if there won’t be another. I’m so glad we met and look forward to getting to know more about you ?

    • Oh, Elise, I love your second-chance-at-love story. I’ve thought that if I ever remarry, there are so many things I would intentionally appreciate and not take for granted. You said it quite well: “… we love each other every day as if there won’t be another.” Thank you!

  13. That is interesting! I have been browsing for a post similar to this for quite
    a very long time.

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