TORQUAY - Ron and Gail Fonstad, who reside at a farm south of Torquay, will celebrate their 44th anniversary on April 4. But their family history goes back way further than that, as the two of them, who are each 71 years old now, have known each other since their first days.
Their parents were friends and lived close by, so the kids, born a few months apart, were almost meant to be together, except that they weren't. In their interview with the Mercury for St. Valentine's Day, the couple said that nobody ever tried to bring them together but life, which gently and gradually pushed them into a later-day marriage that lasted ever since.
"Our parents visited back and forth," Ron said.
"Our dads were friends from that time they were this big," Gail added lifting her hand two feet from the ground.
"They went to the same country school," Ron said.
"And they were neighbours when they were little," Gail continued.
Ron's lived all his life at the same farm, first with his parents, then on his own for some time, and then with Gail and their family.
It never was a plan to get the little boy and girl together. It just happened. A lot of things were similar for them throughout their lives.
They were growing side by side in the country, living farm lives, surrounded by the Prairies and a small, but way bigger than it is today rural community. They were friends when little. They rode the same bus to school, but there Ron, who is five months younger than Gail and was in a different grade, sat with the boys, and she would hang out with other girls. They didn't have much to do with each other in school but their families were friends outside of it.
The two also attended the same Salem Lutheran Church when they were kids, and never lost sight of each other, even though they didn’t always live close.
After graduation, Gail moved to Regina. She went to school for a year and then worked for SaskPower for 9 1/2 years there. But she always came to visit her family in Torquay and would see Ron as they remained friends throughout the years. Soon he started going to the Queen City to visit her as well.
His parents retired from farming and moved to Estevan, leaving him on his own. And it wasn't long after when Ron had his mind set.
Unlike most of their friends, they got married when they were around 27 years old, and Gail assumed that probably getting married a bit later made their decision more mature. But Ron disagreed.
"I don't think that made a difference. I was baching, so I was getting sick of being alone. My parents moved to Estevan, and I was in the house there all by myself, so I thought maybe I should get married," Ron recalled.
They were together for about three years, and then they got married. Gail said when he proposed, she thought "it was alright," as it was just natural.
A big wedding was celebrated in Torquay with their families and friends.
Gail said big-city living wasn't for her, and she was happy to move back, get into the farm lifestyle and build a new family.
"We built a new house. We have four kids. They're all grown up now. Now we got grandkids. There are always changes," Ron said.
They farmed the land, an operation that was started by Ron's great grand uncle, continued by his father and then his family, and also were raising lots of pigs for 40 years. Everyone was working hard together in the fields and in the barns. Ron and Gail rented the land out about 15 years ago and retired from the pig operation in 2010.
And whatever it was that kept them busy, they've been happy together throughout their entire life.
"They said the first year of marriage was the worst. And I thought if that was the worst, it was going to be good," Gail said.
"We never had any disagreements, big arguments. We had disagreements, but we didn't fight about them. They say don't go to bed mad at your partner. Somebody once said, if you have a disagreement, go in the closet and sit there until you work it out and then go to bed," Gail said, sharing their key to a happy marriage.
Ron added that knowing each other for their entire lives also probably helped with understanding and overcoming the challenges as a team.
For more agriculture stories from southeast Saskatchewan, check out the On The Farm special publication.