Aldergrove lovebirds Leona, 91, and Vic, 91, held hands as they sat in lawn chairs on their front yard on April 9, metres apart from their adult children to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
That Thursday was a socially distant night of celebration for the senior couple, their family, and a tight-knit community of neighbours who have looked out for them during a global pandemic.
It marked the 71st year that the Spooners, Aldergrove residents for 30 years and great-grandparents, have been married.
The duo was surprised with dinner from their adult children, who had not seen their parents in weeks while in self-isolation.
The reunion was something their neighbours might never have thought possible just five weeks ago, when Vic suffered a heart attack and was whisked away to Langley Memorial Hospital.
“And now they’re celebrating,” neighbour Carolyn Holt said with awe.
“You can’t keep a good man down,” Vic quipped, to a driveway full of laughter.
“He’s been fun to live with,” his wife retorted.
While Vic was in hospital, neighbours, including Holt and Vicki Waterman, called Leona every day to check up on her.
“They phone and I keep thinking, what do I need now?” she said, explaining they keep her well-stocked with groceries while she self-isolates to prevent exposure to the coronavirus.
“They’ve just been wonderful,” she said about her neighbours.
Two days prior, one of them brought her a bouquet of balloons for their soon-to-be anniversary.
“This is the greatest neighbourhood,” Vic said.
The charming couple first met when they were sixteen.
It all started because of a ruler, Vic chuckled.
They were teenagers in the same class after Leona – who had only ever lived in an all-girls convent – moved to Burnaby and attended the same public school as him.
“I saw this little skinny guy,” Leona recalled, “And I said, can I borrow your ruler?”
After marrying at the age of 20, with birthdays just ten days apart, Leona fostered nearly a dozen newborns.
“Back in those days you had babies in your care for two years before they would be adopted by families in Langley,” she explained. “You couldn’t adopt them yourself.”
“She collected kids and I collected air miles,” Vic teased, later explaining that many of the kids came back to visit Leona throughout the years, as they grew older.
Vic volunteered as an auxiliary RCMP officer for 18 years in Langley after retiring from a career as a globe-trotting cinematographer at age 61.
The last film Vic worked on was If These Walls Could Speak in 1965, which explored the mysteries behind well-known human folklore in locations around the globe.
“It took me to 48 countries in 18 months,” Vic said.
But nothing was ever as enjoyable as his time with the RCMP.
“I wanted to be active in the community,” he emphasized.
When asked what their secret to a long marriage is, Vic responded “communication.”
“Don’t argue and fight, just discuss,” he added, wishing aloud for another 20 years of life.
“You used to say 90 years old was your goal. So now you have a new goal,” his daughter chimed in.
“I’ve got another two good years in me anyway,” he smiled.
“I’m counting on it,” his wife nudged.
“It all worked out, I’ve had a wonderful, wonderful life with a wonderful, wonderful wife,” Vic melodized.