Don and Florence Monniere

Love is in the air. At this time of year, thoughts turn to passion, romance, and affection for that special someone. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, The Times-Independent offers the stories of three Moab couples who have truly made love a joyous – and lasting – proposition.

In the living room of their Moab home, Don and Florence Monniere happily show off a picture of themselves as a new, young couple. In the photo, she’s 17, excited and girlish, and he’s 20, dressed in those distinct, bell-bottomed, Navy-issued trousers, and appearing equally ecstatic and proud. It’s 1946.

“That’s what we looked like when we married,” says Don Monniere. “Look a little different, don’t we?”

At 79 and 82 now, they do, of course, but not entirely different. Even after 62 years of marriage, the Monnieres still seem so pleased to be in each other’s presence.

Sitting on their couch, in the same home where they’ve lived for the last 42 years, they tell stories of their shared life – finishing each other’s sentences, joking and pretending to give each other a hard time as they go along.

At the beginning of their union, “Everyone was not for it,” explains Florence. “Aunt Emma said it wouldn’t last six months.”

Their differences were plain to see. He was a Catholic; she was a Protestant. He was a country guy from Wyoming; she was an East Coast city girl, living in New Jersey. Still, when they met at a juice stand in Philadelphia, their connection was instant. After Florence left, Don says he ended up chasing after her down the street just so he could ask her out on a date.

“Yup, I knew right then,” Don says.

“I’m going to love him and keep him forever, for better or for worse,” Florence recalls thinking at the time.

After just six months, they were married.

“And here we are, 62 years later,” says Don, obviously pleased, as is Florence, to have proven their detractors wrong.

Besides, Florence says, Emma was never her favorite aunt anyway.

Soon after the wedding, the Monnieres moved back to Wyoming, an area of the country Florence had never before visited. She remembers going hunting when she was eight-and-a-half months pregnant, walking about seven miles with some of the day’s kill strapped to her back. It was a whole new world for her, and that’s putting it lightly, she says.

“An Eastern girl going rabbit hunting, carrying dead bunnies. How awful,” she says, her face breaking into a little smile. “I was angry because I didn’t want Don to shoot them.”

“But you sure enjoyed eating them,” Don is quick to remind her.

In truth, Florence fit right into her new life in the West, the couple says. They lived in different areas of the state until the mid-1960s, as Don worked for oil companies, and Florence worked a little, volunteered and raised their four children. The way she describes the scenery of Wyoming, the lushness and the rivers, it is obvious that she misses it.

“I left my heart in Wyoming,” she says, sounding wistful.

She also offers up an anecdote from those Wyoming days, one that makes Don bashful. In two instances, it was actually Don who delivered their children, and Florence is quite fond of saying so. She talks about how, both times, they were actually at the hospital, but neither a doctor nor a nurse was in the room at the time. The babies just decided to come. One was the first of twin girls. With another, the couple’s last, it was a boy, with whom Florence was in labor for just 15 minutes. In both instances, it was Don who was there to catch them, she says.

In 1967, when their children were all teens and younger, Don was transferred down to Moab. The family ended up renting a house and, in short order, bought it. They’ve been living there ever since.

Now, as a retired couple, they say they don’t leave Moab much, except to visit their kids, grandkids and great-granchildren around Grand Junction or in the tiny town of Kamiah, Idaho. Florence likes to swim, and Don takes care of the yard. He helps out friends, taking them to Grand Junction if they need a ride, or running errands for them. He’s also gotten involved in Toastmasters, a public speaking club. While his hands surely shook in the beginning, he says, he loves it now.

“I’ve been real well-satisfied being here,” Don says as Florence looks at him in obvious agreement.

They admit that their life has had its fair share of pain too, though. For years, their religious differences were a major source of conflict, and Don says he also drank more than he wishes he had – that is, until they both became born-again Christians in the late 1960s and early ‘70s. It was then that they both began attending the local Baptist church.

In more recent years, the Monnieres lost a son, Kenneth, unexpectedly. The loss hit them hard, and Florence still cries when she talks about it.

Still, they’ve stuck together through the good and the bad, they say, just like they always thought they would.

Don rubs Florence’s head playfully and says, “She’s just a wonderful woman. Thoughtful, hardworking, truthful.”

“She’s just an all-around good woman,” he adds, a few beats later.

“He can clean and cook and wash,” says Florence. Then, a bit mischievously, she says, “Can I be explicit here? You’re still a great kisser.”

Not many women, she says, would still like getting kisses from their husbands after all these years, but it always makes her happy.

“And he can deliver babies,” she adds.

As they get up from the couch, they start to playfully disagree about some things. He says he hates that couch. She insists she loves it. She loves to fly, she says. He loves to drive, he says. She wants to visit Washington, D.C. someday. He just wants to go to Kamiah again. Then both of them joke that maybe they should meet somewhere in the middle.

“Other than that, life is boring,” says Don.

“That’s not true, not life with me,” Florence says, with a glint in her eye. “I’m never boring.”

“That’s true,” admits Don.

And they both keep on smiling.

ByBy Stina Sieg

contributing writer