Valentine's Day is every day for Marge and Jerry Oxley of Blooming Prairie.
They became high school sweethearts and have maintained a strong bond through marriage during the ensuing 67 years.
The Oxleys moved from the northern Iowa community of Corwith to Blooming Prairie in 1973. The move was made to expand their farm land. "Land was much cheaper in Minnesota," Jerry says.
This lovely couple farmed east of Blooming Prairie near the Dodge County line for just over 40 years until they moved to their current residence, a town home located on the southwest part of town.
Spend just a few hours in the Oxleys' comfortable home with them and learn very quickly that these two love birds are truly meant for one another.
"Can I make you some coffee?" Jerry asks. Marge volunteered to make the pot of coffee but Jerry said he had it under control.
The Oxleys were very willing to provide a snapshot of their relationship, which proves to be a perfect example of true love, something many choose to emphasize only on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14. Jerry and Marge display their love 24/7.
Not too many couples will talk publicly about their attachment to one another. Jerry and Marge, however, are proud of their strong commitment to one another.
"People take life too seriously," Jerry believes. He is very quick witted and lovingly teases his wife in front of others.
The Oxleys came to the Blooming Prairie area after purchasing a farm from Roy and Stacia Angell. "We bought 162 acres and farmed over 400 acres," Jerry relates. They raised beef cows and feeder cattle.
Marge worked 33 years for the Mower County Public Health Department, in addition to working on the farm.
The Oxleys could be called the perfect couple but they both admit there have been some bumps in the road. They lost two daughters at young ages, daughter Rebecca Ann Schunke at age 47 to Lupus in 2002 and Kathleen Ditlevsen at age 63 to cancer in 2013.
Jerry and Marge have a grandson Joshua Skalisky of Pine Island.
"We are very fortunate we don't know what is ahead of us," Jerry says. "Life is often a mystery to us," he added.
Fielding personal questions about their time together, Jerry muses, "You're still with the same man." Adding some homemade brownies to the table, Marge replies: "Well, ya."
Marge said Jerry usually gets her a card for Valentine's Day and sometimes even brings flowers. "I've done that a time or two whenever she paid for it," Jerry jokes. "You've got to have some fun," he chuckles.
How did the Oxleys meet in that small town of Corwith, population 309?
Marge recalls the circumstances of how she and Jerry met. "He asked my best friend if she would ask me to go to a roller skating party near Algona, Iowa with him," Marge remembers. "I was a very shy person," Jerry grins.
Did Marge and Jerry go on that roller skating date? Yes, they did and it started a romance that has continued for 67 years, Jerry says. "Oh, come on," Marge laughs with embarrassment.
Jerry served one year in the U.S. Air Force before the couple was married. "You gave me a ring before you left for service," Marge reminds Jerry.
After his military service, which included a 10-day commitment to fighting a forest fire in Helena, Mont., Jerry returned home in Iowa to resume farming "and to chase my lovely girl friend." Marge worked at a bank at that time.
With coffee and brownies on the table, the Oxleys continued to tell their love story to this writer and his wife of 50 years.
Marge and Jerry were joined in marriage on Nov. 8, 1950 at the St. Benedict's Catholic Church in St. Benedict, Iowa. Both worked hard on the farm during some changing times, Jerry and Marge agree.
"I'll keep you," Marge affirmed as she traced their years together.
Marge is 88, one year older than Jerry, 87. "She robbed the cradle," Jerry says.
"He used to have such nice, thick hair when I married him," Marge reveals. "What happened to it?" Jerry asks. "It fell out," Marge says truthfully.
Jerry said their farming days were done together, with Marge helping with farm chores. She also loves to garden and last summer, she raised 15 tomato plants that provided some tomatoes for the neighbors. Marge also took a box of tomatoes to the BP Senior Center.
Both Marge and Jerry strongly endorse living on a farm. Farm life gives couples a chance to see what Mother Nature has put on the Earth, Jerry remarks.
The sanctity of marriage is very important to Jerry and Marge. They believe couples should be married rather than engage in a freestyle relationship.
Marge and Jerry said their marriage has not been absent of some lively disagreements. "I let her tell her story and if I don't like it, I will tell her," Jerry says with honesty.
Has the bond of marriage gotten stronger with the Oxleys over the years? "That's a good question," Jerry pondered. "I've got to hear your answer," Marge responded.
"Yes, it's getting stronger," Jerry said with conviction. "I wouldn't look at another man," Marge promises.
Asked what advice they would give to young people in love, Jerry said he would tell couples to get married, be sincere and trust one another. "Don't abuse that trust," Jerry said. "You need to talk things over before making a decision," Marge suggested.
The Oxleys totally enjoy living in a small community. "We feel secure here," Jerry said. "You get to know your neighbors," Marge added.
What did the Oxleys plan to do this year for Valentine's Day. "We're going to the Valentine Dinner (Saturday, Feb. 10) at Litomysl," Jerry said.
The Oxleys have a promise they have kept to one another and that is "to live life to the fullest," Jerry said. Speaking of their mortality, Jerry says, "We have our tickets for the bus ride when it comes."
Any parting comments from the Oxleys? "It's nothing but the Gospel," Jerry volunteers. "It's the truth and Happy Valentine's Day," Marge adds.