There’s nothing like a good love story. Most of us tune into the Hallmark channel this time of year to get our fix. But one family in Oregon is getting to watch a sweet and real-life love story unfold right before their eyes this holiday season.
Three years ago, 89-year-old Lauris Hiner of Redding, California received a dozen long-stemmed roses with a note that read, “Love, Paul.” But she couldn’t figure out who this admirer was until a few days later when this mystery man named “Paul” rang her up. Suddenly, the memories came flooding back: Paul was Hiner’s high school sweetheart.
Hiner’s daughter, Susan Broaddus, tells Babble that her mother and Paul dated for about a year in high school. They had met in Seattle, Washington through his cousin Millie, who was her mom’s best friend at the time. The pair loved to dance and even once won a dance contest, Broaddus shares. But their fun-loving time together came to an end after Paul (who was a year ahead of Hiner in school) graduated and prepared to go off to fight in World War II. Paul decided to break things off, saying he felt it would be unfair to ask Hiner to wait around for him and wanted her to live her life.
But even as the two went their separate ways, Paul never stopped thinking about her, and she never stopped caring about him. They both found love with other people and enjoyed long marriages and raised several children. But over a decade ago, both Paul and Hiner sadly lost their spouses. Since they’d lost touch long before, neither one knew that the other had become widowed.
That is, until three years ago, when Paul heard from his cousin Millie that Hiner’s husband had passed away. He immediately reached out to Hiner with flowers and a phone call. And every 3-4 months since then, Paul’s continued to send roses, Hiner’s daughter shares.
But his romantic gestures haven’t stopped there. A year ago, Paul even asked Hiner’s son to take her out to dinner at a fancy local restaurant (pre-paid for by him) since he wanted to treat her, but couldn’t be there to take her himself.
“My mom was all smiles at their dinner,” shares Broaddus, “and couldn’t stop talking about her old boyfriend Paul with the waitress.”
While reconnecting has brought joy to both of their lives, there is still the matter of distance — Hiner now lives in Roseburg, Oregon (with her daughter) and Paul lives in Seattle, some 350 miles away. So about a week ago, Broaddus, her husband, and their two daughters decided they needed to help reunite Hiner and Paul in person. Broaddus says she reached out to Paul, who couldn’t have been more excited. He insisted on taking the family to “THE best restaurant in Seattle.”
Broaddus says that her mother was a nervous wreck before the trip, which would mark her first time seeing Paul face-to-face in 70 years.
“She about drove me crazy,” Broaddus admits, “going through her clothes, over and over again, trying to find the ‘right’ outfit to wear … putting on makeup that she never wears anymore and pacing around the hotel room. I felt like I was with a 16-year-old daughter on a first date, not [my] 89-year-old mother. She kept saying, ‘I don’t think he wants to see me like this. I am not the young girl he remembers.’ To which I replied, ‘Uh, mom … I don’t think he is the young man you remember either … !'”
But as soon as her mother saw Paul, Broaddus says that “the years and concerns melted away and they were the good friends that they once were.”
During the lovely dinner, which included their cousin, friend, and former matchmaker Millie, Paul doted on Hiner.
“When he first climbed in the car,” Broaddus recalls, “he said, ‘I don’t mean to be rude to you other girls, but I am going to ignore you two, I just want to talk to my girl.’ At the restaurant he helped my mom down the stairs and into the booth and kept telling her how wonderful it was to be together again. He is a sweet gentleman. They talked and talked about old times and old friends. It was touching and heartwarming to see my mom so happy and so loved.”
At the end of the night, Broaddus said she hoped to get her mom back up there in the near future to see Paul again. His adorable response: “How about next week?”
While she wishes her mom and Paul could see each other more often, Broaddus admits that it’s not easy to make the 5-hour trip all the way to Washington, and neither Paul nor her mother are able to drive these days. Broaddus says that her mom has also been having memory issues, “but she sure remembers Paul and those years. Paul has made her feel special again. I can’t ever thank him enough for that.”
But perhaps most of all, Broaddus shares that witnessing their happy and beautiful reunion has reminded her “you can love more than one person in your lifetime and you are never too old to find love again.”