Evie Andrews of Bartow decided after her first marriage ended that should she ever do it again, it would be on Valentine’s Day because it’s “always Sweethearts’ Day.”
“I also knew there would be no chance my husband would ever forget our anniversary,” she says.
So, when Bill asked her to marry him in December 1980, she thought they would have to wait more than a year to tie the knot. “Not so,” she explains Bill told her. “Can’t you get a wedding together by February?”
She did just that.
A scant two months after Bill sent her to a downtown jewelry store to pick out her rings in lieu of a formal proposal, she and Bill were married at a friend’s house in Bartow surrounded by their friends, her parents, Bill’s dad and their combined seven children.
“I’m still not sure how it all came together,but it did and I wouldn’t change anything even if I could,” the 76-year-old Bartowan said.
“Neither would I,” chimed in slightly younger husband Bill. “It was just right.”
Their long-lasting romance started when Bill and Evie met at a friend’s house, they said. At some point during their first meeting, Evie’s size-five foot landed on Bill’s leg, Evie explained. “I think he fell in love with my little feet!”
Bill softly chuckles at his wife’s description of their romantic beginnings. “That was it — those little feet,” he says.
The couple said their vows, even though Evie had laryngitis and was coming down with the flu, then entertained their friends and family at the small reception and took off on a weekend honeymoon at Clearwater Beach. “I was sick,but it was still wonderful,” she said.
The couple has replicated that mini-honeymoon every year but one since then, albeit at different locations.
“We take a few days every year at Valentine’s Day to go away for a few days,” Bill says.
“We’ve only missed it once,” Evie adds. That was last year because Bill was recuperating from brain surgery. He was supposed to be in the Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa for their special day, but he “put his foot down” and told the doctors he was “going home, regardless,” Evie explains.
He had survived the delicate operation a week earlier, had undergone a remarkable recovery and flatly refused to to stay another day.
“I wasn’t going to be there (in the hospital) for our anniversary,” Bill explained. “I just wasn’t.”
Evie did admit that she shed a tear or two when she had to call and cancel their getaway reservations.
The couple hasn’t had an easy year, even though they live on Easy Street. Bill’s been battling cancer and Evie’s been with him every step of the way.
“She’s done everything with me,” he explains. “I didn’t do anything except be there,” she says.
The couple’s secret to a long and happy marriage is simple, Evie explains. “We do everything together,” she says. “We just don’t want to kiss each other good-bye. We only want to kiss each other good night.”
They never argue, according to Evie.
“He just won’t argue with me,” Evie says. “And somehow arguing by your self isn’t very satisfying.”
“I don’t have to argue,” Bill says jokingly, ”I’m always right.”
Even though Bill is recovering from another operation in early January, the couple already have their reservations for their annual anniversary junket.
“We’re heading to the beach again,” Bill says. “I can’t wait.”
Regardless of their philosophy, whatever the Valentine’s Day sweethearts are doing, it’s obvious their love is constant. It’s in their eyes.