‘Flowers every Friday’: couples reveal what’s behind their long marriages

Lancelot and Pamela Mitchell on their wedding day, and on their 50th anniversary.

EDMONTON — What’s the key to a long, happy marriage? We asked a few couples who’ve managed to weather life’s storms together for more than 50 years. Here are some of their secrets.

Bill and Marilyn Cavanagh

When you ask 75-year-old Marilyn Cavanagh what her favourite thing is about her husband of 56 years, the answer is simple.

“One of them is that, from the time we were married until today, I’ve had flowers every Friday…it’s pretty special.”

Her other half, Bill, remembers the first time he went in to a Leduc, Alberta flower shop and asked what he could get for 50 cents. He came out with a single rose with a broken stem.

“Over the years, you know, the little individuals flowers grew into a little bundle,” she says. “And, in fact, [when we lived in] Slave Lake, one of the flower shops there used to advertise ‘Bill’s bundles.'”
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Bill and Marilyn Cavanagh on their wedding day.
Bill and Marilyn Cavanagh .
One of Marilyn's "Friday flowers.".

The two met when Bill was 17 and she was 14.

“On my way to school I would walk across close to where he lived. He said he always saw the girl in the blue jacket. And he always wanted to get my attention. So he did that by throwing snowballs at me. But he got my attention and the rest is history.”

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Four years later they married. They now have two children, six grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and have spent a lot of time together during their marriage — whether it was at the office or on the dance floor.

“We love to dance. We were the first ones on the dance floor and the last ones to leave.”

Joan and Stan Broome

These two lovebirds met at a dance when Joan was 18.

“We just kind of clicked,” the now 69-year-old says. “He just made my heart flutter.”

She and her 76-year-old husband will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this May in Stettler, Alberta. Joan credits the longevity to “a lot of compromise” and her husband helping around the house.

As for whether she still gets that heart flutter?

“Nine days out of 10 I do. But I mean, there’s some days where I could probably smack him…But most days are good.”

Joan and Stan Broome on their wedding day.
Joan and Stan Broome at their home in Stettler, Alberta.

Paul and Jane Maslanko

The Maslankos grew up two miles apart in rural Alberta. The two became friends when they were six and seven but lost touch for about a decade when Jane moved to the city. They reconnected when she started working at Paul’s brother’s store.

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For them, the saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder” definitely rings true.

“I was away a lot working out of the city so she was looking after the rest of the family…so we didn’t get into any arguments,” says Paul.

The two have since made up for lost time and are always joined at the hip — with one exception.

“Shopping — he is not a shopper. So that’s one thing, you don’t ask him to go shopping. But otherwise, we’re always together.”

Paul and Jane Maslanko.

Lancelot and Pamela Mitchell

Lancelot & Pamela Mitchell celebrated their golden anniversary Aug. 2014. Their daughter-in-law, Haimie Mitchell, describes them as “the best, kind-hearted ‘farm folks’ from the Pigeon Lake area.”

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The two originally met in England, where Lancelot was visiting his mother and Pamela was a teacher.

“My mum-in-law came over [to Alberta] from England to teach for a year,” Haimie explains. She planned to later travel to New Zealand and return to England. But that plan went out the window when she fell in love with Lancelot, who was a farmer in southern Alberta at the time.

The two celebrated their golden anniversary Aug. 2014.

And although Lancelot may not be a traditional romantic (Pamela says she received flowers from him once: on their silver anniversary), she appreciates his practicality and says she’s been well taken care of over their 50 years of marriage.

A testament of the many ways love blooms.

Lancelot and Pamela Mitchell on their wedding day, and on their 50th anniversary.
Lancelot's reaction to seeing his wife in her wedding dress on their 50th anniversary.
Lancelot and Pamela Mitchell on their 50th anniversary.

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