Arts and Entertainment
March 12, 2014
Norma and Jim Reagan, residents at Parkway Place, were eager to play the Not-So-Newlywed game after almost 60 years of marriage. On Valentine's Day, they competed against two other couples in what was a game full of surprise, rekindled memories and laughs.
The Reagans, both natives of Mississippi, met on Halloween in 1953 and married later on April 17, 1954. Jim had caught Norma's attention before she actually met him in person. She had moved to his hometown in Carthage, Miss., to pursue work with a local church. While looking for a place to stay, she spent an evening at Jim's parents' home. Jim was overseas fighting in Korea at the time, but she soon learned a lot about him from his parents. While working at the church, one of Norma's duties was to post the offering. She was impressed by Jim before she ever even met him, because he made sure to send his offering to the church all the way from Korea. Jim had begun to hear of the young woman who started working at the church through letters his mother wrote to him. When the two met in person, there was an instant connection.
"I was struck by Norma the moment I met her," said Jim Reagan. "She knew a lot more about me than I knew about her because she had visited with my parents frequently. I had been in Korea for 16 months before I came home. Meeting Norma upon my return was a pleasant surprise. We started dating almost immediately and married within the next six months. I proposed in the middle of December. We had started talking about marriage and she suggested we get married around Thanksgiving of the following year. I told her I couldn't wait that long. We decided to get married on the day of her parents' wedding anniversary. Her parents celebrated their 27th anniversary the day we got married. It was also the day before Easter. Her mom made her dress, and she looked so elegant that day of our wedding."
Jim said the one thing that really caught his attention was Norma's wonderful sense of humor. It impressed him immediately. He has always loved her ability to make him laugh. Growing up, there were two things that Jim was concerned about picking a life partner and deciding on a career. He prayed a lot for God to help him in those decisions. He says Norma was the answer to his prayers. Jim believes having the same spiritual goals is important and makes a marriage stronger.
"Jim's mom sends us an anniversary card every year the day before Easter no matter when Easter falls," laughed Norma. "This gesture has always made us laugh. Even though we met in Carthage, we were married in my hometown of Laurel, Miss., which was 90 miles away. We had a minister from each church participate in the ceremony, and we like to think our marriage was tied extra tight because we had two ministers take part in the ceremony. Since my hometown was a distance away, my parents did not realize we had gotten so serious in such a short amount of time. When my mother found out that we were due to get married after only five months of dating she said, 'Norma Ruth has always been a level-headed girl and now she has gone off the deep end.' We felt we were very mature though, and our love for each other has stayed strong over the years. Now if one of our children had pursued a similar route, I think I would have felt a little differently toward the idea."
Norma believes that sharing similar interests with your significant other is a vital part of the relationship. She said that she and Jim have a close bond because they have a lot in common, have the same aspirations, the same desires and set the same priorities.
After living in Carthage for a couple of years, the two traveled to Oxford so Jim could acquire two engineering degrees, then the couple moved to Port Arthur, Texas, and ultimately to Houston. They said that throughout the years of their marriage they have developed new interests together and that a couple's interests change over time. From being young and starting out, to raising a family to retirement, the Reagans have experienced many wonderful life events together.
The couple joined two others to participate in the Not-So-Newlywed game at 2 p.m. on Valentine's Day, and the community provided a chocolate fountain with strawberries for participants and those watching to enjoy. The Reagans competed against the Smiths and the Hodges. Questions included everything from knowing their spouse's favorite flavor of ice cream, to knowing which habit of theirs that their spouse would like them to break, to knowing the color of their house shoes, to knowing their eating habits and preferences.
"I told Jim we better brush up on the trivia of our lives," joked Norma. "We know the other couples, so the game was a lot of fun."
"The husbands were on one side of the room and the wives were on the other," said Rachel McKee, wellness coordinator of Parkway Place. "I asked a question and a team member wrote his or her answer on the white boards and the spouse then said the answer. Events like this are great for social and emotional wellness, since there is sure to be a lot of laughing going on."
ABOUT PARKWAY PLACE
Parkway Place in Houston, a Buckner Retirement Services community, is a non-profit, faith-based senior living community located on a 15-acre well-manicured campus that includes flowers, walking paths, gazebos, benches and raised gardens, putting green, with an outdoor, heated pool and spas. It is also one of the few Independent Living communities in West Houston that has no entrance fees, no long-term contracts and provides spacious apartment residences on a rental basis.
As a continuing care community, Parkway Place offers Independent Living apartment residences, spacious Assisted Living, innovative Memory Care and Skilled Nursing services. The community offers 159 independent apartments, 58 assisted living apartments, 24 memory care support residences and skilled nursing for 60 residents. A new Wellness Center has been added that features state-of-the-art equipment and a BE Well Program to enhance the eight dimensions of wellness
Residents can enjoy delicious dining and warm fellowship in beautifully arranged dining rooms. The community also has an on-site life enrichment coordinator, chapel, full-time chaplain, on-site worship services, beauty/barber salon and weekly housekeeping/linen service. For more information about Parkway Place, please visit the community website at www.bucknerparkwayplace.org or call Susan Coborn at (281) 6775912.
ABOUT BUCKNER RETIREMENT SERVICES
Buckner Retirement Services, Inc. is one of the largest not-for-profit senior living organizations in Texas dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for senior adults and their families by promoting an active, healthy Christian lifestyle while maintaining their independence and dignity. Buckner Retirement Services is part of Buckner International, a global faith-based ministry serving children, families and seniors each year in the United States and worldwide.