The community is a vibrant bunch, but they were extra lively for their Valentine’s Day celebration on Tuesday morning. Some 150 seniors came out for the event, all of them spiffed up, and many wearing red or with flowers adorning their hair.
“The reason we have so many today is because of Valentine’s Day,” said Peggy Avalos, who has been the Senior Center’s site manager for the past 18 years. “We usually have around 100.”
There were several couples in the crowd, but even the seniors who came solo were laughing and having a good time with friends. It was a love fest that included flowers and chocolates, a hearty lunch, music, dancing and even some singing.
Ralph Brewer, 71, sang two songs to his wife Hannah, 83, in celebration of their 41st wedding anniversary, which happened to be on Valentine’s Day. He sang “With All my Heart” and “Los Dos,” which he said talks about following your love through the end of time.
“She caught me. I chased her until she caught me.” said Brewer, of his wife, who he met in Phoenix, Arizona and who he moved with to Santa Cruz in 1982.
“I was teaching her mapping, I was her boss” said Brewer.
The couple sat close together, and Ralph joked with Hannah for going straight for the chocolate cake before touching anything else on her plate. Hannah held a bouquet of red roses, which Ralph had given to her that morning.
When asked what the secret was to being happily married for so long, Ralph replied, “The way to make a marriage work is to always kiss eachother goodnight. ‘Cuz you can’t kiss anybody you’re mad at.”
Smiling, his wife Hannah nodded and echoed “You can’t kiss anybody you’re mad at.”
For Ralph, Valentine’s Day is a day for people to celebrate love.
“It is a day for lovers to celebrate their love and for people to find the next love of their life, if they lost their love for some reason. We all fall in love so many times in our lives. For people who love there’s always someone to fill the gap,” said Ralph.
And the Watsonville Senior Center is no exception to this theory: love brews.
Jose Luis Hernandez and Maria Elena Salzar met at the Senior Center. They are both widowers, and they will celebrate their two year anniversary as boyfriend and girlfriend on the 17th of this month. They are extremely happy together.
“When I get sad or depressed, she starts talking to me and she makes me laugh and it’s like medicine, she helps me. And we respect each other very much,” said Hernandez.
Respect, is the number one ingredient to a successful relationship, according to Hernandez.
“You never see them bickering, you never see them fighting. And that’s true love. They are a great role model for other couples,” said Alvalos.
Alvalos is no exception to the rule either. She met her husband at the center—they fell in love after she told him he was too young to be a part of the center and kicked him out. But he kept coming back to volunteer and couldn't hide his crush on Alvalos. Now that they are happily married, he still comes to help out and made sure he had helped serve everybody their meal before he sat down beside his wife to eat.
Seniors are served lunch five days a week by , and although there is a $2.50 suggested donation, no one is turned away for lack of funds. Each lunch features music for dancing, with a live band coming as often as three times a week.
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