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Senior Correspondent

My relationship with Joannie has been a wonderful thing. The percentage of people who experience two loves in your life is very low. We have a great respect for each other and that makes our togetherness even more delightful. I wish every guy my age could make this voyage. Being in love is a great way to live out your life. It makes you want to get up in the morning and do great things. Here is our story. — Lowell Bailey

Joannie’s friends had urged her to find someone and to start dating, but she always said, "No, there is only one guy I would like to date — Lowell Bailey." She had admired him for years as they had seen each other often sharing many of the same interests, but she thought the possibility of his ever wanting to date her highly improbable. Meanwhile, Lowell had admired Joannie but didn’t know of her admiration for him. One day, after she had been out to see and admire the Beatitudes Garden, Lowell called her. "Is there any possible chance that you would consider going out with me on a date?" Joannie was overjoyed. Just to be with this guy for one evening would be fabulous. Suddenly she saw a vision of their future together, and it has turned out much the way she envisioned it.

Their first date was a dinner at Elaine’s with friends. What a nice setting with which to begin. When Lowell’s friends had left, they walked to his apartment. The moon was full, and the waterfall sparkled with reflected light. At his apartment, when he put on her favorite music (it was his favorite, too) and asked her to dance, she was delighted. Being on a first date made her a little bit apprehensive but Lowell followed the "50s rules" that they both adhered to, and when he took her home, they kissed goodnight at the door. The next weekend Joannie invited Lowell to a dinner party at her home. He enjoyed the dinner she had cooked and really hit it off with her friends.

On their next date, just a year ago, they attended a Valentine’s Day concert at the Botanical Garden. The tables were set with sparkling lights on the terrace with music they could both sing to. It was a truly romantic evening with their favorite wine and songs. It was a chilly night, and Lowell held Joannie close. As they walked down the path to the car they realized that they felt close emotionally, as well. 

The following Friday, Lowell and Joannie planned to go together, with her mom, to the opening ceremonies of the Senior Olympics. It was a perfect Arizona day. Joannie was honored to be asked to carry the fire down the path to light the torch for the 2010 Games. Lowell was pleased with the way Joannie performed and told her so. Joannie, in turn, complimented him because he was involved at the top levels in making these events possible. The next day, Lowell called to ask how she had done in the sprint. She had qualified for the national competition in 2011 in Houston. Right away, Lowell started speaking of a trip to Houston together. Joannie was so happy because she thought, "He thinks we’ll still be together in 2011. Good." That night they attended a church meeting, dinner, movie and discussion. Lowell fit right in, and her friends loved him and he them.

So far in their relationship, they had been only getting together on weekends, so it was another step forward when Lowell called on a Monday and invited Joannie to pizza and gelato for lunch. On the days when they weren’t together, Lowell called Joannie and sent her wonderful cards with handwritten notes of love.

They were so very happy, and they kept telling each other over and over that they wanted their love to last forever. Lowell felt that he was so comfortable with Joannie that he hoped he wouldn’t  make any mistakes and spoil it all. They were coming closer and closer to making a commitment to each other.

Early in March, Lowell had arranged for Joannie to hike with his DBG friends into the Grand Canyon at the end of April. He was careful to tell her that the trip would include a two-night stay, and they discussed with much humor and a little shyness on Joannie’s part: Separate rooms? Separate beds? A bundling board? At that point it was unclear where their relationship would be by the end of April. Joannie was so impressed by Lowell’s sweetness and consideration of her feelings. He was a gentleman, and Joannie became his lady. As they talked for hours they found they had had so many of the same experiences of joys and sorrows. When the spiritual life came up it was during Holy Week with a lot of church and choir rehearsal and not much time to be together. They shared their gratitude to God for their love, and when they spoke of their faith, found that they weren’t far apart. Lowell attended services on Easter for the first time and sat with Joannie’s mother, an old friend of his. They go to church together now, and they pray every day that their love will last forever.

When Lowell found out that Joannie had not been out of Phoenix much since moving to Arizona, he pledged to show her the state where he had been born. On their first trip they drove to Tortilla Flat. It was a perfect day together, seeing the beautiful mountains and lounging by the river. Lowell was an extremely knowledgeable guide. After lunch they were listening to a cowboy band when the leader pointed them out as "lovers." It was that obvious. 

They were In love, the kind of love they both had felt as 17-year-olds. They told everyone, and the question was always, "When is the wedding?" "Oh no," they said, "we are only dating." On their second trip, at a ranch owned by an old high school friend of Lowell's, they ended up in a truck bed bumping over gulches and arroyos for two hours. They were black and blue but found that any hardship could be fun when they were together. They traveled to the East Coast to visit Joannie’s old friends, and they found that they got along very well even when they were together all week, sometimes under stressful circumstances.

In August, their most romantic trip took them to southern Arizona. They started out at Tubac, a lovely old ranch site (now a golf resort) and ended up at a bed and breakfast. There they walked out into the courtyard in early morning to look at the stars and in the afternoon to relax after sightseeing trips with all the hummingbirds and butterflies.

Their dating phase was idyllic: swimming, wine before dinner each afternoon before Joannie enjoyed cooking their evening meal. They were now crazy about each other, and day by day their attitudes about "just dating" started to change. One day in one of their hour-long discussions, Lowell explained that he wanted to take care of Joannie and wanted them to be together all the time.

They asked The Beatitudes whether a couple would be allowed to move in without benefit of matrimony. The answer was astounding. Not only would they be allowed to live together, but there were giant incentives to be had if they could move in that month.

All through their relationship, Lowell had been troubled with pain in his hip and had made arrangements to have it replaced. The date had been set at September 13, which would be two days after the move. They decided to do it. Their compatibility in every aspect of their lives would be severely tested but they made it through the move from two homes into one and Lowell’s hospital days and rehab.

When Lowell asked Joannie to be his wife she happily consented. Living together became easy and natural, and they are very happy with their little abode. There is an arch in the garden which they had carried back from Home Depot. Lowell had planted vines on either side, and the leaves and flowers on the arch are gorgeous. They decided to be
married under the arch.

Meanwhile, since they first started dating, Dr. Nelson had offered to marry them. At first they just laughed. They were "just dating." But now, they took him up on his offer. They were married in the Beatitudes Garden. Now, when Joannie and Lowell say, "We are so in love," and people say, "When was the wedding?" They say, "April 2, 2011."

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