The Times asked for your romantic stories, and you obliged! Below are a few of our favorite submissions. Congratulations to Catherine and Ryan Stage of Highland!
Winner: Catherine & Ryan Stage
My name is Catherine Stage. I'm married to Ryan Stage, and we live in Highland. Ryan and I have been together for 13 years, and married for 3 years. Ryan has been by my side since childhood.
Together, we have conquered my cancer battle three times. I was diagnosed with Hodgkins in 2000, which relapsed in 2001, causing me to have a BMT bone marrow transplant at Loyola Medical Center. At the time, Ryan went to Purdue West Lafayette and would visit me in Chicago every weekend at Loyola.
Ten years later, 3 weeks before our wedding, I was rushed to the hospital to find out that I had stage 3C ovarian cancer. I had ER surgery at Loyola in 2009.
I'm no longer able to have children. Being only 31 years old and going through menopause is hard on my body and our bank account. We do not get to do the things a typical couple our age should be doing. Everyday is a struggle for me, for us.
I now have neuropathy, macular degeneration and no thyroid due to the chemo and radiation. I can only work part time, and I'm in a significant amount of debt due to medical expenses. A night out, not having to worry about money would be a blessing. Sometimes I wish for just an hour, to be free of pain both physical and mental. Ryan has been wonderful. To be able to take him out would give me some hope again.
Runner-Up: Jean & Wayne Johnston
It was 1951 when Mr. Novak hired me at Margaret’s Sweet Shop on the corner of Sibley St. & Oakley Ave. I was excited to start my new job and Mr. Novak was kind and has quite the sense of humor.
While working there, I noticed a red-haired guy with a big smile in work clothes that would stop by every afternoon. There was a group of guys that stopped in after work that he would sit with, I just happened to notice him the most. After a few months, the red-haired guy asked me on a date to the movies.
Mr. Novak leaned in and said with a smirk, "Her mother won’t let her date."
The red-haired guy responded with a smile, “I’ll bet you $2.00 that I can.”
Mr. Novak replied with a hand shake,"I bet you don’t."
Well, we did go on that date, but the red-haired boy never collected that $2.00. We got married on the longest night of the year in 1952. We just celebrated our 60-year Anniversary on December 21, 2012, the day the Mayan calendar ended. But we did not end, we are still going strong with 8 children and 42 grand & great grandchildren.
His red-hair is now white as snow, but he still has a great smile. He’s a keeper.
Runner-Up: James & Jeanine Piro
My parents have no idea I am submitting them, but I think they deserve this after 52 years of marriage.
My parents met 56 years ago and it was love at first sight. She was 14 years old and he was 16. The day after her 18th birthday they got married. It was a small wedding with a backyard reception, followed by a quick honeymoon to Cedar Lake. Not long after, they had a bouncing baby girl, followed by 7 more kids after her, 5 boys and 3 girls all together. They love their family.
She was a stay at home mom and he worked very hard to support his family of 8, and to spoil tons of grandchildren and great grandchildren.
They are my inspiration. My father has had multiple health problems and they are each others support through all of the hard times. They deserve to be recognized for their love for each other.