Cecil and Doreen valentines forever

They've been married for 65 years, raised four children and have seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Through it all, Cecil and Doreen Harbidge have stayed together as they promised each other they would.

Michele Young / Kamloops Daily News
February 14, 2013 01:00 AM

Doreen and Cecil Harbidge have been married for 65 years.

Some romances begin before two people even know what love is really about.

Cecil and Doreen Harbridge met when she was in Grade 4 and he was in Grade 5 at school in Sperling, B.C.

His mother taught a girls' singing group, and Doreen was one of those girls. Cecil would have to walk them home afterward, and Doreen's house was the last one.

Their families became friends and so it was natural that they did, too. When they got older and moved apart, they kept in touch by mail.

"We wrote hundreds of letters," said Cecil.

She became a teacher, he joined the army and then worked in photography, construction and other business.

Somehow it was just natural they would marry.

As they both pointed out Wednesday, they have a lot in common.

Doreen even tried to alphabetize all of the things they both love: astronomy, birdwatching, camping fishing, and music, especially jazz.

"We share a lot of different likes," she said.

OK, she didn't get through the whole alphabet. She ran out of time to finish the list before being interviewed about how she and Cecil have stayed married for a lifetime.

"That's important. Common interests," said Cecil.

Common backgrounds, too. Both grew up on small farms and they share the frugality and practicality that comes from living through the Depression.

"It's one of those romances - it just spanned so many years," he said.

When they got married, Doreen moved over from Victoria, where she'd been teaching. Cecil was running a photography shop in Abbotsford.

The wedding was in Vancouver on Aug. 9, 1947 - three months before Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip married.

"He was out taking pictures that afternoon. He hardly made it to the wedding," Doreen recalled.

Eventually, life brought them to the Kamloops area. Doreen got a job teaching at the Red Lake school. They bought the Davis Ranch in the Tranquille Valley and raised four children on the land. Doreen home-schooled the kids, and some of the neighbours' offspring, too.

They moved into town for a while, then to Parksville on Vancouver Island, eventually to Pritchard and back to Kamloops, where they now live in a cozy trailer in Oak Hills.

Through all the moves, all the jobs, all the work, all the kids, they have stayed together. It was important.

"We decided when we got married we would live our lives together," said Cecil.

"And we did. I think we could count on both hands the number of times we've spent the night apart."

He saw other men leaving their families for weeks at a time for work and he didn't want that.

"All these things, you have to work at. You have to compromise, too," said Cecil.

They also share optimistic outlooks and are quick to see the humour in things.

"I have a saying: laughing is better than crying. If you laugh, the world laughs with you. And if you cry, you cry alone," said Doreen.

Picking up on her point, Cecil continued.

"You have to see the humour in things, even if they don't seem funny at the time."

With Cecil now 90 years old and Doreen turning 89 in a month, their health has affected their lives - but not their togetherness.

"Neither of us can dance any more," said Cecil.

"We still enjoy music though," said Doreen.

Promises made decades ago are still being kept - and not just wedding vows.

"We're stuck with each other," he said.

"I promised his mother I'd look after him," she admitted.

"You did," Cecil said.

© Copyright 2015 Kamloops Daily News

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