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February 17th, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 7
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A Valentine perspective
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Ezra Black Photo
Aaron and Jennifer Slaney
EZRA BLACK
Pass Herald Reporter
What is love?

Why is that special person not there? Why give love when it’s unrequited? What’s right? What’s wrong? We were tired of waiting for signs so this Valentines Day the Pass Herald launched an informal investigation to find out.

We found seven couples who agreed to share their stories and advice on how to make it work not just on Valentine’s Day but everyday.

Aaron and Jennifer

Aaron and Jennifer Slaney, newlywed Newfoundlanders who moved out West and settled in Lethbridge, met in the beating centre of their home province’s cultural life: the kitchen.

It was Aaron’s mother’s kitchen. They reckon they were both in the ninth grade.

“It was a typical butterfly situation,” said Jennifer. “Being shy. Not wanting to make eye contact. That kind of thing.”

“I’m sure I said something pretty embarrassing and childish,” said Aaron. I probably just made any excuse to make conversation.”

“From what I remember it was as simple as a joke or a “hi,”” added Jennifer.

Aaron said a strong relationship is resilient and needs to be tested from time to time. Like the time the couple drove for about a week to reach Alberta, staying in seedy motels along the way.

“That’s a test of anyone’s relationship,” he said.

William and Gene

William Bohmer and Gene Lagroulx had their children and grand children with respective life partners. But the seniors have been going steady since Lagroulx moved into York Creek Lodge about four years ago.

“When I moved in here, I live right next-door, my daughter and her husband brought my things in through the back door,” said Bohmer. “I happened to look out and saw who she was. We’ve been good friends ever since.”

“She hardly had a wrinkle.”

Lagroulx was born in Laval, Quebec. She said she was attracted to Bohmer’s brain.

“I never went to school,” she said. “He knows about things.”

“You were a nice guy,” she added.

Cai and Yao

“We talk about everything and we play together,” said Rong Hui Cai.

Sheng Dong Yao and Cai, Pass residents by way of Shanghai, China, met in their hometown boarding school.

“We were just good friends at first,” said Yao. “She was in another class but the same grade.”

After school they stuck together, moved to Canada and opened a Chinese restaurant on main street in Blairmore. They have a couple of kids with a third on the way.

Keli and Eric

“If you can’t handle honesty, you shouldn’t be in that relationship,” said Keli Siray, one half of the Crowsnest couple that includes her boyfriend of seven years Eric Dewald.

The pair met in High School. Siray described their relationship in those days as “not good,” but then Dewald left the Pass for about a decade and when he got back, they “found each other.”

“Don’t live together until you truly know each other,” said Siray by way of relationship advice.

Dewald said his other half has helped him through some difficulties.

“I was going through a hard time, cleaning up on drugs,” he said. “She helped me through that. Now I’ve been sober for five years.”
continued below ...
Emily and Tim

“It’s about compromise,” said Tim Ritson-Bennett

Tim and Emily Ritson-Bennett were passing through Crowsnest last week with six-month-old Liza and two-year-old Maisie.

They met 12 years ago. Tim said he found Emily “extremely beautiful,” and “way too hot for me,” but she had something special.

“Unlike many other attractive women, I found her unintimidating,” said Tim.

Communication is the key, said Tim.

“There’s a reason everyone keeps on about talking to each other,” he said.

Emily said it was obvious Tim loved his family and found that, “a very attractive trait.”

Plus he was “good looking,” and “driven.”

Laverne and Murray

“I didn’t like him,” said Laverne Kelln of her first encounter with Murray.
“But I kept persisting,” said Murray, “I thought, ‘that’s the one I’m going to go after.’”

The Cranbrook couple met in 100 Mile House, a small town in the South Cariboo region of central British Columbia, at a bar, in January. They were married in less than a year. They have a couple of kids, both in their forties.

Laverne worked as a nurse. Her shift ended at midnight when the bars were still open and Murray would drop by and say ‘hi.’

Initially Laverne was skeptical. Then the pair went to a curling bonspiel. They had a wonderful time and that appears to have been the turning point.

“It feels like after that, I didn’t have to work so hard,” said Murray. “I think that bonspiel brought us together.”

“He was quite persistent back then. And I’m glad he was,” said Laverne.

They were both born in small towns in Saskatchewan. Both were born and raised on farms and both come from large families.

“We have a lot in common,” said Laverne. “Yes we have our fights but we put them behind us.
continued below ...
Joan and Chuck

“You’re looking at a really blessed woman,” said Joan Shoesmith.

Joan’s little room in the York Creek Lodge is plastered with reminders of her late husband Joseph (Chuck) Charles Shoesmith.

On one wall hangs a large photo of Chuck and Joan standing side by side on their wedding day. They appear to be covered in rice, or confetti. Joan assures she was wearing a “handmade wedding dress,” and that she was the only of her five sisters to have a “big white wedding.”

On another wall hangs a photo of them on their 25th wedding anniversary.

Sitting on Joan’s nightstand is a wooden figurine of a man and another of a wooden ball encased in a slatted sphere, encased in a box: gifts from Chuck who was something of a whittling genius.

The pair grew up in Westboro Village in the west end of Ottawa. Joan, said Chuck, had been in love with her for years. But he was facing stiff competition.

Joan explained, “Mack was my boyfriend at the time. Mack Hanson, I was nuts about him.”

The three were good friends and hung out together with Chuck playing the part of third wheel. This went on until Mack got fed up with the situation and said, “two is company and three’s a crowd.”

“But by that time I realized that of the two guys, Chuck was the gem,” said Joan. “Smart. And as I say, he whittled. He had a good brain.”

The two were married and had children. Work brought Chuck and Joan out West. They organized a youth group, “which was really incredible.” Two of the youth they worked with went on to become pastors.

They shared 29 years together until Chuck’s health began to fail.

Joan said that Chuck felt that, “if I’m no better than this, I’m better off dead.”

“So that made it easier for me to accept his death because he wasn’t feeling good. He wasn’t happy being alive,” she said. “But wasn’t he wonderful?”

Joan battles dementia and could not say how long she’s been a widow.
“It’s quite a while now,” she said. “Would you believe that I just can’t tell you? But he isn’t gone, that’s why. He’s in my heart and in my paintings. I’m a widow but I’m not unhappy because we’ll always be together until the day I go.”
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February 17th ~ Vol. 85 No. 7
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