It's such a difficult thing to have to choose just 3 winners from all of the submissions we received at The National Hotel this year, and yet, we made a commitment to our participants and we are sticking with it. So tonight, we announce that we have our top 3 writers who have shared stories from the heart. They are meaningful, they are truthful, and they help de-commercialize this annual celebration of love and family.
Our winners are Skye, Ann, and Lauren. We cannot thank them enough, and all our other participants, for taking the time to put pen to paper and share their stories. Pete and I don't need to write another word on this month's blog, because their words say it all:
- Skye (Frenchtown, NJ):
"My mom married at 18 in the middle of World War II. They rushed, before my dad who joined the Army Air Corps before Pearl Harbor, was shipped out again. After the wedding, my dad had to take a troop train to Florida and snuck my mom on board. Two weeks later he was overseas and didn't see my mom again until she was 20. He always joked he heard the first year of marriage was the hardest so he thought he'd stay away.
"Five years ago last November, my parents were moving to Frenchtown ahead of the movers so they became the second guests at the D’Costa’s newly renovated National Hotel. Almost exactly three years later, they drove to a routine appointment in Flemington. They sat down side by side in the outer waiting room and he, as usual, dropped his head and fell asleep. My mom watched the clock and nudged him when it was time. There was no response. She rushed into the cardiologist’s office and they all came running, working on him for an hour, but he never woke up. He was 94. My mom was 87. That day was the first in 68 years that she was alone.
"A year and a half later, at lunch at Homestead General Store, Bucks County, PA, we spotted a very tall man wearing an Air Force Veteran baseball cap across the room. My mom bumped into him at the lottery machine and asked about his cap. Soon the conversation got to their both being widowed. A few days later they got together and I don't think there’s been a day since that they haven't been.
"John, a former bomber pilot and 35-year airline pilot, is two years younger than my mom who delights in calling herself a cougar. They hold hands, she rides in his pickup, he calls her last thing at night and first thing in the morning, and when it snows, he stays over.
"Their most meaningful romantic moment is a daily occurrence because they don’t take any for granted. Even more special is the joy they bring to everyone else, the smiles as “the lovebirds” walk through town. The fact an almost ninety-year-old woman and eighty eight year old man can serendipitously find each other is the very symbol of love – and that it’s never too late to find it."
- Ann (Bucks County, PA):
"This year George and I will be sharing our 22nd Valentine’s Day together. Sometimes I think it is a miracle we met at all. He lived in Pennsylvania and I lived in NJ. We met in March 1993 thanks to a winter storm with a foot of snow that forced the rescheduling of many St. Patrick’s Day Parties including the one we both ended up attending the following weekend. The delay of the festivities meant that I was now free to drive across the Delaware River and attend the party I would have missed. That night I met the kind, handsome man I would someday marry. I’m still amazed that this wonderful person I admired from the other side of the room chose me.
"Our first date was a disaster. Open mic night at John and Peter’s in New Hope where a friend of his hogged the conversation. George was never going to call again but when he dropped me off I, accidently and unknowingly (I swear), left my wallet in his car. He HAD to call me the next day and we decided to try again. Despite me leaving on two long trips and moving back in with my parents, we made it out on a real dinner date where I impressed him by not only eating my own dinner but some of his as well. Surprisingly, he asked me out again.
"We were engaged in December 1994. His family lived in Pennsylvania and mine in NJ so we had to find an in-between place to first have our parents meet and eventually to be married. We treated our parents to dinner in Lambertville at a place which was probably the fanciest restaurant I had ever been in. Ever since then, I love to go walk along the Delaware and stop for drinks and dessert. We were married at St. John’s in Lambertville with a reception at Peddler’s Village. Now, 20 years later, we live in Bucks County. This past Mother’s Day my husband and kids told me they would do anything I wanted. My choice was Frenchtown and we spent a beautiful spring day walking around the shops. Even though there were six of us, it was memorable and romantic. Choosing to spending time with someone you love is romantic even if you are not alone and when you have four kids you never seem to be alone."
- Lauren (Phillipsburg, NJ):
"My name is Lauren , this is just one of those moments that made me realize how lucky and in love I am with my husband. Back in 2009, last week of September my husband and I had an argument over god knows what. His way of fixing it, a delivery of flowers my way was a card, a greeting card. About a week later, I found out I was pregnant so I was so excited and couldn't figure out how to tell him. Our thing has always been cards, greeting cards for everything. I found the perfect card, it stated how he didn't have to be nervous I knew he would be a great father even if he couldn't get the crib together on his first try. He would have Nine months to figure it out. Well I had to run out and FORGOT the card on the kitchen table, he got home and saw it was for him. Assuming he was in trouble for something else he hesitated to open it, but did. Unfortunately I was not there to see his reaction. When I returned he was just standing in the kitchen so excited smile ear to ear and then he tried to ask me a question but just started to cry and held up the card. Eventually got the word "really" out. I nodded yes."
To all of our contestants, THANK YOU!! You made this day truly special for all of us. Pete and I hope that you will continue to participate in this annual contest, and continue to enjoy our beautiful little corner of the world. There just isn't anywhere else we'd rather be.
I'd like to close with a simple reminder about our annual "cleansing," when we close The National Hotel for a week (Monday, February 16 - Monday, February 23, reopening on Tuesday the 24th), in order to necessary maintenance work that will sustain this historic establishment for the rest of the year. We hope that you understand, and that you will return on 24th and thereafter to continue to make memories in Frenchtown.
Please continue to send us your comments via email or on this blog. Happy Valentine's Day weekend!!