Valentine’s day spurs us to take pause and celebrate the love that we receive and the love that we give by embracing the red and pink and all things cupid. Beautiful roses and decadent chocolate provide a hedonistic backdrop for this overly commercialized holiday. But beyond the rose petals and the chocolate covered cherries, there are heartfelt stories of love. Whether you are a part of a love story or lucky enough to hear about a special romance, stories of two souls finding one another never grows old and for me, stories of first and everlasting love always seems to spark a melancholic trip down memory lane.
I happened upon a wonderful, married couple that now resides at The Country House, an assisted living community in Yorktown Heights, NY. Israel and Loretta Fleiss, who have been married for 59 years, explained to me that they met at summer camp when they were about 14 years old. Although they were quite young, they both knew that this was the beginning of their never-ending love story. She was from the Bronx, and he was from Brooklyn, but thanks to the NYC subway, frequent visitation was possible, and they embraced the journey frequently. On June 9th, 1962, Loretta, and Israel (Lori and Izzy as they affectionately call one another), celebrated their wedding at the Broadway Central Hotel in Manhattan. Many years have passed since that day, and they both described how lucky they feel. They have raised 4 children and enjoy time with their nine grandchildren.
Loretta loves that Izzy has always been an optimist and Israel, adores Lori’s beautiful blue eyes. We were reminiscing about romantic adventures, and they concurred that their most memorable romantic escapade was attending the New Year’s Eve dropping of the ball in NYC. For them, it was a romantic and fabulous experience, but they were young and crazy, and said that they would never do it again. And when I asked them if they had any advice for young newlyweds, they both offered some simple wisdom: “Give your love a chance. Don’t run from the first adversity.”
When the conversation ended, I walked away, feeling both inspired and uplifted. These two beautiful souls had found the elusive “true love” and 59 years later, still looked at one another with twinkles in their eyes