Husband and wife died within hours of each other earlier this week.
A number of Times readers have commented that they were moved to tears while perusing the obituaries in the first edition of 2013 (Wednesday, Jan. 2). This was not due to one of the deceased being a young person, which often brings on sadness in people who didn’t even know him/her. These tears were not really sad ones, though; rather, they were more of the bittersweet kind that tug at the heartstrings and might even bring a slight smile to your face.
The obituary that prompted all this emotion was for longtime Crookston residents Clifford and Eva Vevea. Although it is unusual for a single obituary to feature two people, in this case it couldn’t have been more fitting. After living as nearly one through 65 years of wedded bliss, nonagenarians Cliff and Eva passed away of natural causes on the same day, within hours of each other.
Reading the brief synopses of these two people’s lives and seeing the pictures of them side-by-side is enough to make one long for their longevity both in age and as a couple, but it falls far short of telling their whole story. While it’s impossible to put 65 years of marriage down in print, those who have been fortunate to spot Cliff and Eva out and about town together over the years could attest to their close, loving relationship.
To some, they may have appeared to be a bit of an odd, albeit very attractive and well-dressed couple, Eva being thin and statuesque compared to Cliff’s shorter, stocky frame. Despite the difference in height, those two would glide seemingly effortlessly across the dance floors of the Eagles and Legion halls in Crookston practically every weekend, well into their 80s. This writer often thought they could easily win dance contests, competing against much younger couples, and should have considered teaching ballroom dance classes.
Impeccable hoofing skills aside, it’s what the Veveas did in between sets that really set them apart: They held hands and looked genuinely happy. As the other couples in their age group sat and conversed, usually the husbands with each other and the wives likewise, sometimes the respective wives and husbands lightly bickering, Cliff and Eva sometimes joined in the chit-chat. Unlike their counterparts, they never let go of each other’s hands until they were back on the dance floor and always had friendly smiles on their faces.
This is something one might expect to see in a dating or newly-married 20-something couple, but senior citizens who have been together for decades? That's true devotion.
Cliff and Eva held their ages well, neither of them looking anywhere near the 90-something they were. This could be due to being blessed with good genes, living healthy lifestyles, having cheerful dispositions, their pure contentment with each other, or a combination of these things.
The Veveas' story is a poignant one for the simple fact that after spending more than two-thirds of their lives with each other through thick and thin, they left the world together without one of them having to spend a night without the other.
No one’s life can be adequately summed up in merely a few paragraphs, but obituaries can give us a glimpse into the lives, and perhaps a few memories, of those who are no longer with us. From there, we're left to fill in the blanks.