An inspiration

Published 8:53 am Friday, February 19, 2010

As journalists, we get to meet a lot of exciting and inspirational people from all walks of life.

One of them took my breath away last week.

I was interviewing 96-year-old Garland Lance and his wife, Bernice, at East Pavilion for a Valentine’s Day story when Garland hit me with this doozy:

“We’ve never had an argument.”

“You’ve never what?” I asked, prodding him to repeat his declaration, just in case my hearing failed me.

“It’s true,” he said. “We’ve disagreed and had different opinions and ideas, but we would always sit down and discuss it.”

In 71 years of marriage, Garland proclaimed, the two lovebirds had never squabbled.

“Surely you fussed a little,” I urged, still not registering what I was hearing. “I can’t believe a couple can go 71 years without fighting. My husband and I can’t even go 71 minutes!”

“Two people with the right attitude don’t have too many problems,” he answered with a smile.

Of course, I had to get proof of this amazing feat, so I called the Lances’ daughter, Carolyn Boothe, who was on vacation in Florida.

She confirmed her dad’s story, claiming the mutual respect and admiration her parents shared for each other allowed the two to talk through any adversity that came their way.

These two are an inspiration, I have decided.

I vowed to adopt their philosophy, although it’s harder to take on than just declaring it so. There are so many chances for arguments in a day, so many ways to complain and nitpick and disagree.

The Garlands survived growing up in the Great Depression. Their marriage early on endured three years of brutal separation while he served in World War II. Today, they are apart each night because he lives at The Village at Woods Edge while she, needing more care, lives at East Pavilion.

But the other times during their seven-decade marriage, while they were together, the two didn’t fight. It wasn’t worth the aggravation.

Instead, when they disagreed about something, they sat down at the kitchen table and talked it out until it was finished. No cross words. No secret resentments. Just respect and love and hard work.

Wouldn’t it be nice if most marriages worked that way? Heck, wouldn’t it be nice if most relationships worked that way?

Imagine all the heartache and despair that could be solved by sitting down at a kitchen table and talking problems out. Imagine if respect for each other led each discussion you had with another person. I can think of a lot of bickering that goes on right here in Western Tidewater that could be muted by an inspirational talk from Garland Lance.

His philosophy seems somewhat simple and nave, and, yet, so brilliant and forward-thinking.

I’m inclined not to argue with him.