Well, it’s February - the month of love and romance. Over the years I’ve written a lot of articles at this time about happy couples. Some were newlyweds. Some had been together for more than half a century. Some were military couples dealing with separation. I’ve even talked to a handful of couples that had dated as teens and then went on marry different people and start families only to reconnect later in lives and marry with very happy endings. I love these stories where couples find each other a little later in life and pick up right where they left off. It’s a reminder and a testament to the idea that it’s never too late to find true love.
The story of Kris and Paul Banas of Lansing is somewhat along those lines. They never actually dated at first, but met in the late 1970’s and hit it off right away.
“Paul and I met each other at his brother’s wedding back in 1978. I was a friend of the bride and mentioned to her at the wedding that her new brother-in-law was so very cute. I was 20 back then and totally attracted to this very good looking groomsman. Paul was 24,” said Kris. “We were introduced, and then spent the reception together almost the entire evening. After the reception was over, he asked if I wanted to go out to the bar that several people were going to, and offered to drive me home after. I said sure, and we were together until about 3 a.m. In those hours, I was hooked.”
Despite getting along so well, they never saw each other after that night. Kris married in 1982 and had two children. She divorced and moved away briefly in 2004.
A few years later, Kris reconnected with her friend who had been the bride at the wedding where she first met Paul. She filled Kris in on her brother-in-law, informing her that he was still in the area and was still working for the same company and that he had never married. “He just never found anyone he wanted to be with long term,” said Kris’ friend, who then extended an invitation to her daughter’s graduation party that Paul would be at.
When she arrived at the party, her friend, Linda, sent her on to the deck where Paul was. Kris didn’t immediately recognize him. Paul no longer had the head of blonde hair that she recalled, but she knew it was him from the eyes. “He said he knew me right away,” she said. It had been 28 years since their initial meeting. “We spent the entire evening talking, like we had known each other all those years. This time when we parted company he asked me on a date. He said, ‘I am not going to let you get away again!’”
They’ve been together ever since meeting again at the party and married in 2009. “We went through a very tough time about a year and a half into our marriage. Paul was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and I came pretty close to losing him.,” said Kris. “His teams of doctors were wonderful, and he is alive today because of them, his faith, and the many thousands of prayers that were sent up for him. The weeks and weeks of radiation and chemotherapy that he endured before his surgery, the radical procedure he underwent and the recovery, it was all worth it as he will be cancer free three years this coming May. We are very blessed.”
In May, the couple will celebrate their 5th wedding anniversary. Although it took time to to get there and there were some bumps in the road, there’s a happy ending to the story for this couple who plans to spend many more years together.
“We have tried to make up for a lot of lost time in our relationship, and packed some pretty great things into 5 years - two trips to Walt Disney World and a cruise aboard the Disney Dream just to name a few. I am a Disney addict, and proud of it. Paul is so patient and lets me indulge my Disney side every chance I can. I have converted him into appreciating this part of my life, as he has converted me into his love of NASCAR, cars and racing. It’s a good life, and we look forward to growing older together.”