The was the first in a series of Bedtime Stories that accompanied every second Six and the City column. These real-life stories of local couples remind us love is possible for all of us. Originally published in the Red Deer LIFE newspaper on February 22, 2004. I’ve republished it here:
Couple met on the job
Story by Faye Bayko
Ask Theresa and Steve Rickard when their story begins and they both start it in December of 1980 when they met while working at Alberta Transportation. But the real beginning of their love story began months later with the innocent question of a child.
Theresa at the time was in an abusive marriage, grieving the death of her new-born daughter and recovering from knee surgery when things came to a head. She remembers being in the kitchen when son Josh, who was just under two, came down the stairs dragging his blanket.
“Mommy why do you cry all the time?”
The simple question called her to action.
“I remember I took his little blanket …”
“His bag of toys,” Steve adds.
“His bag of toys, the clothes on my back and left.”
She didn’t go far. There weren’t many choices. She walked down the street to Steve’s apartment block. He wasn’t home so Theresa and her son waited out of sight in the backyard until he returned.
While the relationship at that point was a work-related friendship, Theresa saw Steve as someone she could trust. The original two-day request for shelter turned into months and then years. Twenty-two years later neither are clear on what attracted then kept them together.
Steve became her refuge. His easy-going manner, his friendship and his sense of humour all came packaged in a physical size that provided her with the sense of safety she needed to make it through the dramatic changes. They married in 1981 with a party that still brings peals of laughter at their recalled antics of friends and family.
Their first challenge as a couple proved to be the setting up of the marriage bed, a waterbed gifted from their work mates. They spent their first nights on the floor waiting for the heater to perform its task and Theresa’s expectations of her engineer husband were tested by the bed’s post and beam construction.
Now, with Josh and sister Eryn in their 20s, Steve and Theresa are building projects targeted at blending skills learned through separate careers, with a common interest in photography. This month sees them presenting a photographic exhibit of Edmonton’s new eco-bridge, the Anthony Henday, over the Blackmud Creek, and a working holiday to the Queen Charlotte Islands. Theresa credits the longevity of their relationship to its strong foundation in friendship.
“We’re two extremes coming to the middle and making peace.”