For many couples, Valentine’s Day traditions are about small acts of appreciation, having fun, or keeping the romance of a relationship alive. But for Albuquerque, N.M., natives Ron and Donna Kramer, who are going on nearly four decades of celebrating the same Feb. 14 tradition, one box of chocolates has quite literally become their lifeline.
After meeting for the first time in January 1979, the then-37-year-old Ron and 34-year-old Donna began to date, just in time for the romanticized holiday. They were both divorced and looking for love, and Ron asked his new girlfriend how she felt about a box of chocolates — Donna wasn’t shy about getting specific about her favorite kind.
Ron went to the Albuquerque-based candy shop to get his love interest just the treat she wanted, to later find out that if he brought the same box back in years to come, he could get the gift refilled for just the price of the chocolates. The possibility of a whimsical tradition delighted Donna just as much as her favorite sweet, and she deemed the young insurance salesman “a keeper.”
Just a few months later, on May 8, 1979, the pair got married — both for the second time. And 39 years later, the couple are celebrating their love just the same way they started, although they now live apart.
In 2014, Donna was diagnosed with dementia, which eventually landed her in an assisted-living facility without the love of her life.
“She couldn’t write, she couldn’t speak, she couldn’t go to the restroom, she couldn’t do anything by herself,” Ron said. “She had to go into a home in August of 2015. And that was probably the saddest day of my life.”
Ron is still with Donna daily, bringing small treats with him as he visits her at the home. Although he fears the day that she’ll forget who he is, he’s savoring the moments that he has with her and her long-term memory, which keeps their beautiful tradition of the box of chocolates intact.
“That’s why I’m going to keep him. He’s a keeper,” Donna said. “I married him years ago and I love him as much today as I did then.”
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