Linda Colling: Love’s a mystery

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YOU can’t measure love... but millions will in how big a card, flowers and Valentine’s Day surprises are showered on them.

What’s love got to do with it whether you do or don’t get a card? Absolutely nothing at all.

It’s a nice gesture – but true love doesn’t depend on that, only that you can depend on each other through thick and thin.

All that matters, as those who have found their soulmate know, is that the measure of their love isn’t just down to one day of the year. That’s what makes it true and lasts a lifetime.

And when you come face to face with that kind of love you know the wonder of it all. And that’s why meeting Frank and Sadie Earney made a damp, grey day this week sparkle.

Wed 64 years they are still wondrously in love.

And wait for it.... neither can understand why.

That’s the thing about love... you can’t understand it at all.

All Frank, 86, can say is he fell head over heels for Sadie when she was sweet 16 and going out with his mate: “It was straightaway. It’s impossible to understand. I just wanted to see her again and again. Other boys used to keep coming in between us but I came out top in the end.”

Now the love light is dancing all around us as Sadie, 87, admits: “I can’t understand it.”

What they both know for sure is they were meant for each other. Call it fate but Frank is emphatic when he says: “She had to be the one.”

Sadie hands me the Valentine card she has for Frank with “I love you ” emblazoned on the front. The one he has for her says “To my wonderful wife. With all my love on Valentine’s Day.”

They’ve just started sending Valentine’s cards again but it’s three years worth of love letters written from an Egyptian desert while serving in the RAF that Frank sent Sadie that won her for his very own for all time.

She says: “I always treasured them but if I found a dance partner and he wanted to be serious I used to say ‘No, I’m waiting for Frank.’ And they’d say ‘Bugger Frank’.”

Frank laughs and says how her letters to him kept him going: “She promised she would wait and she did.”

And Sadie glows as she tells me: “I was courting another boy when we first met and Frank used to hang on because he was a friend of this boy.

“Then the boy left the school where we all worked and he said ‘Look after Sadie for me Frank.’ And he did look after me.

“I didn’t want anything to do with him at first. Then he went to Egypt at 18 and before he went away he wanted me to get engaged.

“But I said ‘No. I will make you one promise. If I meet anyone while you are abroad I will wait to face you.’ “

Somewhere in the loft of their home in Priestfield Close, Chapelgarth, lie the love letters he penned.

Sadie recalls: “He kept saying ‘When we get married.’ And when he came home he proposed to me in Roker Park.

“He had an engagement ring and he said ‘Will you marry me?’

“And I said ‘Eeeh I don’t know.’ And he said ‘ What do you mean after all this time?’ and I said ‘Of course I will marry you.’

That was October 3, 1946, and they married on December 28 that year in All Saint’s Church, Roker.

Their only child, Gillian, was born in January 1950. And their only regret is they didn’t have more children. “I would have loved a big family,” says Sadie. They have one grandaughter and two great grandchildren.

Frank says: “She’s been my life. I sometimes look back and think where has it all gone.”

That’s the years.

Their love is simply dazzling.

And Frank is cock-a-hoop to tell me what Sadie’s old boyfriend told him: “When I asked you to look after Sadie. I didn’t mean you had to marry her.”

Well, that’s the wonder of love.

♥ And if he doesn’t send you a Valentine, the one message we can all take to heart are the words of Mother Teresa when she was asked what people could do to promote world peace as she received the Nobel Peace Prize: “Go home and love your family.”