Seated side-by-side on a sofa in the living room of their modest Brantford home, John and Audrey Hrynkiw look every bit the proverbial lovebirds.
With sideways glances and bright smiles lighting up their faces, the pair finish each other’s sentences and tweak each other’s memories while answering questions during an interview with Brant News.
Theirs is a Valentine’s Day story that has spanned over half a century, beginning when John first asked Audrey to dance at a Ukrainian hall in Unionville.
“I thought, okay, I’ll dance with him,” Audrey recalled. “My girlfriend and I were supposed to go back home together on the bus, but he drove me home instead.”
Audrey didn’t know at the time that John had arrived at the dance with another girl. But he couldn’t help himself once he caught sight of Audrey and simply had to ask her to dance.
“Today, I would tell him to take a hike because he left a girl that he came with on the dance floor,” Audrey said while John offered a sheepish smile.
It is clear that their love was meant to be. This Valentine’s Day, John and Audrey celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.
“We dated for two years and married on Feb. 14, 1953,” Audrey said.
It was a coincidence that the day they picked for their wedding fell on Valentine’s Day.
“We decided we wanted to get married on a Saturday and (Valentine’s Day) happened to be on a Saturday that year,” John said. “Our wedding anniversary is on Valentine’s Day so I can never forget the date. And (Audrey) was born on the first day of spring, so I can never forget that date either.”
Keeping busy, respecting each other and giving each other space when they need it has helped the couple keep their marriage alive.
“We never argue, we always get along,” John said. “If she’s mad, she doesn’t talk so I leave her alone.”
While Audrey says John is “the stubborn one,” she believes having lots of patience with each other has also contributed to the longevity of their marriage.
The couple has travelled around the world, visiting destinations like Thailand, Holland, Italy and China. While their children were young, they camped throughout Canada, enjoying family trips to British Columbia and the East Coast.
On their 25th anniversary, John and Audrey renewed their marriage vows during a church ceremony that was followed by a reception. Their children threw them a surprise brunch at the Olde School House Restaurant for their 50th anniversary.
“It was a real surprise,” Audrey said. “But for this one here, we don’t know, we haven’t decided yet. Maybe just a quiet day at home.”
Looking back at their life together, the couple finds it hard to believe 60 years have passed.
“With the snap of a finger it goes by so fast,” Audrey said. “Instead of apart, I think we grew closer together.”
“She is such a big help to me,” John said. “I get spoiled that way. We never once mentioned the word divorce.”
John worked at Massey Ferguson as a control clerk for 40 years and the couple moved to Brantford with the company in 1964.
Audrey worked at the Toronto Dominion Bank in Brantford for 13 years.
Today, along with their son and daughter, they enjoy spending time with three grandchildren.