French writer Francois de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) once wrote, “True love is like ghosts, which everybody talks about and few have seen.”
Every generation has developed its original definition of love. The 60s and 70s were about the idea of ‘free love for all’, while the 80s and 90s brought about an ‘independent love revolution.’ However, things began to change during the 21st century. Technological advances changed the way people communicated with each other and thus another concept of love was developed. The 21st century became known as the time of ‘convenient love.’
Love in today’s world is complicated. People are marrying later, putting their careers first and becoming more attached to the gadgets they have in their hands than the actual people in their lives. Online dating apps like Tinder and OkCupid have made dating more convenient. But with convenience comes laziness.
As a generation, we have become lazy with our love lives. Instead of settling down and putting in the necessary work it takes to create the ‘perfect’ relationship, we move from individual to individual until we think we have found the right fit. Little do we know that the more we strive for perfection in our relationships, the farther we get from finding true love. And this leaves many of us wondering if true love really still exists.
In Santa Clara, Pacific Gardens residents Don and Marg Pellmann have been married for over 69 years and at 101 and 92 years of age, respectively, the Pellmanns are a perfect example of true love. Being able to say that you have been with someone for 69 years is a feat that most of us will never be able to accomplish. On August 14, 1945, Don and Marg met in the streets of Wisconsin, while celebrating V-J Day (Victory over Japan). Japan’s surrender essentially marked the end of World War II and was met with huge celebrations all over the United States. Don recounted “most of the bars ran out of beer, so people started taking to the streets to celebrate.” It was an unique first date and would be the start of the Pellmanns life together.
It wasn’t long after they met that Don proposed to Marg on their anniversary in 1946 and one year later, the couple was married. Don spent most of his life working for General Motors, while Marg took care of the house and their three boys, Ned, Jay and Jim. The Pellmanns have called Wisconsin, Arkansas and California their home during their marriage, and Don even helped to build their three homes. The Pellmanns’ life was filled with travel. Don traveled for several weeks at a time during his career, which Marg recounted as being difficult. Later in their marriage, the couple would take a camper around the United States. Even after retirement, they did not slow down. Don would go on to compete at the Senior Olympics at the age of 70. He was active in the program until retiring just four months ago.
Despite a hectic lifestyle, moves and children, the Pellmanns have worked together to keep their marriage alive all this time. It’s a concept that is foreign to many of us growing up in the 21st century. When asked what marriage was like, Marg responded simply with, “It’s work. It’s not easy, but you do it together.” It takes work to make a relationship strong. It takes work to create a life together. But it takes love to make the work worth it.
The Pellmanns then offer advice for younger generations about marriage and relationships, “Make all your problems small ones, not big ones. Life is too short for fighting,” Don says. Marg says to, “Just take one day at a time. Handle whatever comes along together.”
The Pellmanns are an embodiment of the tremendous effort and love it takes to make a marriage and relationship work. Relationships are not easy and neither is true love. Don and Marg may have fallen in love with each other at first glance back in 1946, but it was their sheer determination and commitment to build of life together that defined their true love. While, the Pellmanns may come from a different period in time, they offer hope to those of us still trying to find true love in the 21st century. They remind us not to let a period of time define your love life, but to define it yourself. Love is not found in our cell phones, a club or between a stranger’s sheets; it’s found in the very place we have long forgotten about. Our hearts.
For more information on Pacific Gardens assisted living, please call (408) 985-5252. This facility is located at 2384 Pacific Drive in Santa Clara.