A Valentine Story: Love can endure and never fails
Editor’s note: Happy Valentine’s Day! The following was submitted by Madison resident Bailey Erickson and we thought it would be fitting to share it with our readers for Valentine’s Day.
By Bailey Erickson
MADISON – Who knew that while standing in line at Michael’s in Madison, I would meet a lovely woman from Finland who shared with me her love story that spanned 55 years. As I listened to Heidi (pronounced “Hayday”) talk during our wait in line, I noticed her accent and asked if she is from Germany. She said she was born in Finland and visited Madison frequently to be with Seymour (Sy), the man she has loved for 55 years. They got married last year.
Heidi and I met at the Tropical Smoothie later that week. There she told me she is a retired Research Scientist of Economics from Finland. Her beloved Seymour is a retired Advanced Communications Electronics Engineer who worked as a contractor for NASA, Bell Laboratories and many others.
In 1963, when Heidi was deciding on which college scholarship to accept, she realized she longed for somewhere with sunshine. She accepted a scholarship at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa where she studied from 1963 to 1964. She met Seymour in the summer of 1964, through a mutual friend, and they fell in love instantly.
She remembers that he was handsome, cultured, well-read, kind, and well-dressed. Their first date was at Shoney’s “Big Boy” on Memorial Parkway after he had picked her up at the Greyhound Station. Seymour has always remembered the blue dress Heidi was wearing and the big basket she carried that summer. In August of 1964, Heidi went back to Finland and she and Seymour communicated via letters.
In 1966, Heidi was in Sweden and Seymour was in Buffalo, NY. She visited him for three fun-filled weeks in NY and they also spent time in Niagara Falls. She was “dreaming of him to propose there” and they often reminisce about that visit. As she walked toward her departure gate, she thought Seymour would call out to her and propose to her but he didn’t. Even today, Seymour regrets letting her walk away.
In 1971, Seymour came to Finland with a wedding ring in his hand and wanted her to elope. Heidi was getting married to another man and told Seymour, “No.” From 1971 to 1981, Seymour and Heidi had no contact. Heidi was busy working in Africa for the UN on regional planning and development.
Seymour worked for Boeing in Wichita, Kansas in 1981 and she met him there for several weeks of “amazing fun.” Seymour played the saxophone while his friend, Calvin played the piano, as part of a duo called “Salt and Pepper.” Heidi felt as if she was in the movie, “Casablanca”. They would remember their time in Kansas fondly.
Seymour asked her to marry him but she said no because she had too recently divorced. Seymour was so sad Heidi didn’t want to marry him. In 1991 and 1992, they exchanged a few emails, letting each other know they were alive and okay. When the news of 9/11 came, she wondered where Seymour was and desperately hoped he was not in New York.
In 2004, Heidi gave a speech at the United Nations Forestry Forum in New York. She tried to find Seymour through some mutual friends and eventually learned he was well, not married and working somewhere in New Jersey.
In February 2011, she received the first email from Seymour in quite a long time. Heidi remembers feeling so much excitement that Seymour had contacted her. Although Heidi was leaving for a very important meeting in the office, she replied to him quickly, with a short email. She wanted to make sure Seymour’s message was real and would not disappear.
Seymour emailed Heidi and they continued with emails in 2012. She was preparing to retire as a Research Scientist and he had retired from engineering. Heidi visited Seymour in Huntsville and noticed how much the town had changed. Between 2012 and 2018, Heidi visited Seymour for three months at a time. They married in February 2019 and had a small wedding in a Huntsville Synagogue.
Heidi and Seymour are so happy to be finally together. They realize they are getting older and they need each other. They both have had good lives. Heidi with her career in development studies and forest economics along with fun years of skydiving and scuba-diving. She also traveled extensively over 7 continents. Seymour excelled in advanced communications, engineering and consultations. Heidi said “he even has one of his gadgets on the moon!” Seymour played music and was an active HAM radio operator.
Heidi and Seymour have kept all of the love letters sent to each other over the last 55 years, but they only have photos from their wedding in 2019.
Thank you, dear Heidi and Seymour, for sharing your love story. You are proof that love can endure and never fails. We will be praying for you both!