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Love Story Comes Full Circle

When thinking about forever-love, I am reminded of my elders; a generation of people in their seventies who have endured much and adore with everything they have. I am in awe of their loyalty, selflessness and sacrifice towards a commitment most of them made some fifty years ago. This year my aunt and uncle (my legal guardians) hit the 'golden together' milestone. Their love story is one to retell, honor and surely celebrate.

Pat and Joe Thomas met in high school and started dating in 1962 - their senior year. Both career-minded, secured their college degrees before getting married in 1967 - a testament to the support each had for the other. Six months after their wedding, and a newborn on the way, Joe went into the Army. With a growing family, Pat and Joe endured two years of the service-life, including time in Vietnam. Distance, war, the struggles that come with raising children, did not weaken the love built by this couple.

Cue three children, and busy careers, with Pat in nursing and Joe at a construction firm - life took another turn. My sister, brother and I suddenly became parentless in 1981. Being the loving, family-minded people they are, Pat and Joe took us into their home - making their family of five, a family of eight. Their home immediately housed six very different teenagers. They didn't have a lot of money, but what they did have was love and a lot of it. At no point in time did we feel like an addition, or a burden - we felt fully incorporated into the 'Life of Thomas.'

The selfless act of adopting three teenagers is just one of many acts of love both Pat and Joe bestowed, and thus was the foundation the rest of our lives were built upon. Love, tolerance, acceptance, faith, compassion, and selflessness are what Pat and Joe role model in life. You can see it in their marriage, their relationships, their children and the people they surround themselves with; setting the best examples of what is means to love.