This started out as a war story.
It turned into a love story.
It was going to be words about a man who served his country in the Army in World War II. A man who won a Silver Star and Purple Heart as a tanker who rode with Patton.
Instead, the words turned into a portrait of a 91-year-old husband so in love with his 86-year-old wife that, after 62 years of marriage, they still kiss each other before every meal. They kiss each other goodnight.
The martial became the marital.
This column was going to raise the curtain on Veterans Day next week.
Now it's putting two people on stage who celebrate Valentine's Day every day of their lives.
Lloyd Sparks. A war hero from Kansas. And Helen (Smith) Sparks. A first-place government test-taker from Iowa.
They met in Modesto, after the war to end all wars.
Today, they live and thrive and love here in Merced.
That is, when they're not visiting all 50 states or renewing their passports to travel, arm in arm, wherever their journey together for six decades takes them.
Lloyd is the nonagenarian medal-wearing veteran who'll be honored as a grand marshal at Merced's annual Veterans Day parade Tuesday. Helen will be the trim, smiling woman somewhere on the sidewalk downtown, proud as punch of her husband who is also, to her, an "old phooey."
To read the complete column, visit Teh Merced Sun-Star.