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It’s etched into Heather Hill’s memory. It’s still fresh and vivid. Like it happened yesterday.
She’s 11 years old. She’s with her mother and they’re walking out of the Dominion store, which was on Main Street back in the day. She looks across the street and a man and his young son are coming out of the barber shop. Heather feels her heart racing. Butterflies are fluttering around in her tummy. She likes what she sees. The boy is cute.
“And I’ll never forget it, as God is my witness, I turned to mother and said, ‘I’m going to marry that boy.'”
And here’s the best part: she did.
There’s never been a more perfect story.
Heather and her husband, Art, have history. Serious history that goes back 50 years. It’s deep and it’s touching and it has all the right ingredients that make for a fairytale romance.
When it comes to making a relationship a lasting and meaningful one, we could all learn a thing or two from Heather and Art.
It’s the kind of love that you see in movies. The enviable kind. That undeniable spark between two. Heather and Art’s story will tug at your heartstrings and make you believe that anything is possible, that soul mates do exist.
They say opposites attract and for Heather and Art this certainly applies.
Heather is vibrant and outgoing. She’s fiery and strong-minded with a whole lot of pep and pizzazz. She believes in women’s rights and admits politics can easily get her riled up.
Art is the mild one. He’s quiet and soft-spoken and gives off the vibe of being a perfect gentleman.
Somewhere, in the middle of all their quirks and differences, they are the same. And it’s not just their mutual adoration for one another. It’s believing in one another. Sticking together through thick and thin because they both want to. Because they can’t imagine life without each other in it. When someone takes your breath away you want them around for as many breaths you take.
“My mom and sister were so upset when we got engaged,” says Heather. “They thought I was too young and that I had my whole life ahead of me. But I wasn’t giving up either. I knew I had to be with him. There was no question about it.”
She was only 16 when he asked her to marry him. Of course she said yes. How could she not? This was the man of her dreams. She knew that from the day she first saw him. It was one of the best moments of her life.
They married on his birthday on a beautiful fall day in October. Art was 21; Heather was still a teenager at 18.
“I was the best gift he got without a bow,” she says.
And to this day, Heather still feels lucky. Art does, too. You can actually see their love. In the way they laugh together. In the way they look at each other. In the way their eyes light up when they talk about the beginning together.
“I love Art more today than I ever have,” says Heather. She doesn’t skip a beat. It’s the first thing that she says when asked if it’s true that love grows. “Absolutely, it does.”
Those first glances, the butterflies and feeling weak in the knees, holding hands and kissing for the first time, buying their first house (that they still live in), continues to hold as much meaning to Heather and Art today as the occurences did when they first happened. All of those snapshots make for a beautiful big picture.
For Art, it was Heather’s eyes that he was first drawn to.
“There was something about them,” he says. A beautiful dark brown. He felt a connection when he looked into them. And her smile. It could light up the darkest room.
Things get real, quick. Art takes a moment to compose himself. It’s apparent there’s a lump in his throat. He delves into his heart to retreive the facts that he knows to be true.
“Heather made me who I am… without her, I can’t even imagine,” he says. “She’s the love of my life. She’s always has been and she always will be.”
He goes on to tell the story of how 15 years into their marriage he was working in housekeeping (and later as an orderly) at Huntsville District Memorial Hospital. He was 35 at the time with two girls and a wife to support when he decided he wanted to go back to school. Heather stood behind her man. It was two years—two tough years—but he recieved his paramedic licence by going back to school. It was a huge accomplishment for Art. No one in his family had ever gone to college or university. They were hard-working farmers.
“I would have never been able to do what I wanted to do without her support. But that’s how it’s always been,” he says. “She’s always behind me 100 per cent.”
And according to Art that kind of support is what is needed to make a relationship last. “It doesn’t matter what we take on, we have to have each other’s back. That’s what makes this marriage work.”
Two peas in a pod. That’s been the case for a very long time. It’s each other that they want to be with. Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean much to Heather and Art. Tomorrow will be like any other day, Heather says, because when you’re with the one you love and hold dear, you should do your best to treat every day like it’s special.
They have two daughters, both grown up now with their own kids. To Heather and Art, family is everything. Their grandkids light up their lives. The emphasis on family is huge.
Be unconditional. Kindness matters as much as respect, and support is paramount if you want everlasting love. That is what Heather and Art have learned over the the past five decades.
It isn’t rocket science. Relationships take work. Give and take. Push and pull. There’s ups and downs with a fair share of twists and turns. If you’re in it for the long haul then you should understand it can’t always be smooth sailing. There will be hiccups. Overcoming those obstacles is what will make you stronger as a couple.
And you have to be willing to compromise.
“Nothing works if you think you’re the end all to be all. If you think you’re right all the time, you’re going to be right but you’re also going to alone,” says Heather. “With Art and I, I may get an idea but it’s nicer to have him agree or have an opinion to make it worthwhile. This is our home. It’s not my home. Nothing is special to just me or him, it’s special to us.”
The divorce rate is shocking. People walk away from relationships every single day without as much as a second thought. They fall in love, get married, have kids and leave. And (strangely) there are people who will go on to do exactly the same thing all over again. Fall in love, get married and walk away. Let’s face it, sometimes it’s as simple as that it wasn’t a good match from the start.
Heather admits she’s a bit surprised there’s even any interest in doing a story on she and her husband because they’re just two ordinary people. But that’s not true at all. It’s in the ordinary that you often find extraordinary.
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