I used to think it was wrong to hang onto every word of a Nolan Richardson, or even an Army general I once raised suspicions about at a military school. After all, at the end of the day, they were both just regular people working for a living. As the old saying goes, they put on their pants one leg at a time just like you and me. In the aforementioned cases, one was an obvious decorated military veteran who had trouble telling the truth at times. The other was a basketball coach that liked to go off on verbal tirades for no known reason at times.
Nevertheless, it was my job to report on those men, so I wrote down and repeated their words. Nothing more, nothing less. You move on to the next story.
But every now and then, you come across something special, someone special, and their personalities and words of wisdom stick with you. At the end of any one of my 32-plus years in this business, I can count on one hand such stories that, when all is said and done, were included in the latter group. That doesn't mean other articles weren't special... neat, if you may. But for one to be remembered as truly special years down the line, well, those are rare.
Such was the case recently when I visited a couple in Horseshoe Bend.
In less than three weeks -- Dec. 22 -- Donald and Darlene Miller will be celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary.
Yes, when a Richardson talked X's and O's in basketball, it was noteworthy. He had some experience. But when a couple has survived 70 years of marriage, they don't have to try and explain what they know about the secret to longevity in a relationship. They've lived it. You listen. I know I did.
I was particularly touched when I asked Darlene the proverbial question of what the secret was to lasting 70 years together. She glanced toward her husband and said, "Well, I just love him. I was crazy about him then and I'm crazy about him now."
I literally felt as if I would need to grab on to the arms of the couch so I didn't melt inside of it.
To put in perspective how long it has been since the Millers tied the knot, check out some of the following events that took place in 1942:
* Daylight Saving Time went into effect in the United States.
* Twenty-eight countries agreed to create the United Nations.
* How Green Was My Valley won Best Picture at the 14th Academy Awards.
* World War II was in full swing. The Holocaust: Nazi Germany extermination camps opened all over Poland. On her 13th birthday, Anne Frank made her first entry into her diary.
* World leaders included U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, United Kingdom Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Russia/Soviet Union General Secretary Joseph Stalin, Italy Prime Minister Benito Mussolini, and German Chancellor Adolf Hitler.
* Walt Disney's animated film, Bambi, appeared in the U.S.
* The movie, Casablanca, debuted in theaters.
* Bing Crosby sang White Christmas.
* Jimi Hendrix, Paul McCartney, Harrison Ford, Stephen Hawking and Calvin Klein were born.
* Alaska and Hawaii were still 17 years away from becoming U.S. States.
* Duck Tape, later changed to Duct Tape, was invented by the U.S. Military.
I guess the point is, the Millers have seen it all, been through it all, yet remain in 2012 as grounded and as good of people as I've ever met. Yes, this interview was one of those special ones.
The feature on the Millers can be found in the December issue of Avenues magazine.