A lasting love

By Kassidy Christensen

March 21, 2017 12:00 AM

DIAMOND YEAR Through war and peace, Cliff and Marion Espetveidt's love has endured for more than seven decades. They were married 75 years ago today, on March 21, 1942. KASSIDY CHRISTENSEN LLS PHOTO

Secret to a long marriage? "Just live and work together."

At only 16 years old, Cliff and Marion Espetveidt first met in Marwayne, embarking on what would become 75 happy years of marriage.
Now both 96 years old and living at Pioneer Lodge, the couple spoke with the Source about their life together, and what they think is the secret to a long and happy marriage.
While working for Marion’s parents’ neighbour, which Cliff said was during harvest time, he first met his future wife.
Cliff is originally from Kincaid, Sask., and later moved to Beartrap, Alta., and Marion is from Marwayne, Alta.
When asked if it was love at first sight, Cliff quickly answered, “Must have been,” and Marion echoed the sentiment.
The couple married at age 21 on March 21, 1942.
Prior to their marriage, Cliff signed up to join the Canadian army and fight in the Second World War.
“I had come up from Calgary,” Cliff said, to marry Marion, where he was training.
Once they said their I do’s, Cliff was sent to England shortly after and stayed overseas for nearly four years.
The couple wrote regularly during their time apart of three years and nine months, to which Marion said, “And all of a sudden I didn’t get anything. I was kind of worried, then the mail came and I had 21 letters. You moved I think (to) Sicily (Italy),” she said to Cliff, who agreed.
Upon the war ending, Cliff returned home to Canada, and Marion travelled by train to Edmonton to reunite with her husband, which happened to be on her birthday.
After returning home, Cliff received a loan from the Veterans Land Act to purchase a half section of land, five miles east of Marwayne.
With the help of their neighbours, Cliff and Marion built a home on their section of land and began a life together on the farm.
In 1946, they welcomed their first child, a baby boy, who died shortly after birth. Later they welcomed three daughters, Audrey, Marie and Connie.
“Four years between each one of us,” Marie said.
On raising her children, Marion said, “Oh it was fun.”
As farmers, Cliff said they had 60 cattle, he bought and sold pigs, among other animals, they had chickens, of which Marion would sell the eggs, and they grew and sold grain, as well as brought fresh cream to town for people to buy.
“I remember going to town with Mom and she sold to the people in town jars of cream, and eggs,” Marie said.
The pair grew large gardens with a variety of fruits and vegetables.
“Mom and Dad were famous for their huge gardens,” Audrey said.
From potatoes to carrots, asparagus, peas, rhubarb, raspberries and strawberries, Audrey said there was never a weed in the gardens.
“Mom monitored that garden very closely,” she said, adding the gardens were a source of pride for her parents.
Active in the community, Cliff was a member of the Royal Canadian Legion #116 in Marwayne for 67 years, and Marion a member of the Royal Canadian Legion Ladies’ Auxiliary and Alberta Royal Purple Lodge of Marwayne, both for 50 years.
The couple enjoyed many activities together while living on the farm, and were avid curlers.
“We went dancing too all the time … we danced every Friday night,” Marion said.
“Every Sunday we’d go fishing … sometimes we didn’t get very many,” Marion said with a laugh, adding they would go to different spots to drop a hook.
Attending rodeos was another pastime of the couple.
Daughter Audrey explained, “They used to go visit rodeos, and they still watch them on TV,” she said, adding her parents also enjoy chuckwagon races.
As an active Legion member, Cliff was the president of the Lea Park Rodeo for 25 years.
During his time working with the Legion, Cliff and some of his fellow Legion members started the Jubilee Regional Park in Lea Park.
Once Jubilee Park was complete, Cliff worked on having a reunion building built at Lea Park, which was dedicated to him with a commemorative plaque for all his work on display.
As active members of the community, Marion said, “If anything was on, we went to it.”
The family farm was rented to Marie and her husband Duane since the late ‘70s, and Cliff regularly helped with the operations for many years, running his cattle and working some crops.
Duane and Marie took over as owners of the farm once Cliff and Marion moved to the Pioneer Lodge at 88 years old.
“They still remained active there (Pioneer Lodge), they play cards every night, they even organized a few things,” Audrey said.
Audrey explained Cliff and Marion love to play crib.
“My parents used to play cribbage every morning at the breakfast table,” said Audrey, who noted the long-married couple assisted in organizing a senior’s cribbage tournament at the Pioneer Lodge.
Their green thumbs followed Cliff and Marion to the Lodge, and Marion explained she’s grown tomatoes and cucumbers since they first moved.
Marion said even last year they had tomatoes of a good size and English cucumbers, one reaching about 36 inches long.
Now both at 96 years old, with three children, eight grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren, and a love that is visibly strong for one another, Marion shared the secret to a long and happy marriage:
“Just live and work together,” she said, to which Cliff added, “(We) never had a fight.”

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