MIDDLEFIELD — Valentine’s Day provides an opportunity to reflect back on our relationships.
Recently, some senior citizens spoke about their long marriages during a lunch at Middlefield Senior Services.
In 1972, Angela Downes went on a date to a local dance hall in Meriden with a young man. She recalled sitting in a booth with him when she noticed another young man staring at her from inside the dance hall.
“I lifted my head and looked around and there he was right at the end of the bar,” Downes said. “Handsome fellow, he had a black suit, black hair and a little grin on his face and he was just staring. I was so flustered when I saw him.”
The “handsome fellow” was Ronald Downes. He walked over, extended his arm and asked Angela to dance. The couple married on January 31,1973.
“And we danced through 40 years of marriage together,” she said. “We were also both understanding and patient with each other. I was comfortable with him. You need to be with someone who makes you comfortable.”
Gwen and Jon Brayshaw, who met when they teens, have been married for 55 years. Jon Brayshaw, who lived in Meriden, went to visit his best friend who had moved to Brocketts Point in Branford —the same neighborhood Gwen lived in — in the early 60s.
“He was in a boat rowing, and I was doing the backstroke and we were going the opposite way of each other and I smashed into his boat,” she said. “When I got to know him he was the sweetest, nicest guy I ever met. Only guy I ever dated, only guy I ever kissed.”
Jon continued to drive down to Branford on weekends to visit. After graduating high school, the two were engaged for a year and married in 1965.
“Learning to love people, forgive people, help people, I think all those things are important,” Gwen Brayshaw said when asked about a successful relationship.
Mary Makucin met her husband Bob during a chance trip to Gannon College in Erie, Pennsylvania. She described their first meeting as “love at first sight.”
“We began writing back and forth and he would drive to Canton, Ohio where I was from and I would fly here to Connecticut where he was from,” she said. “So we did that for a time before he asked me if he was marriage material.”
The two were married in 1964. Makucin, a seventh grade teacher at the time, invited all of her students and their families to the wedding.
“If you know what your self worth is, you have to understand that that makes you stronger in a relationship,” Makucin said.