Find­ing love in un­ex­pected ways

St. Lewis cou­ple cel­e­brates 10 years of mar­riage

Northern Pen - - EDITORIAL - BY STEPHEN ROBERTS ST. LEWIS, NL

War­rick and Elaine Chubbs of St. Lewis, Labrador cel­e­brated their tenth an­niver­sary this sum­mer.

Their story is about find­ing love and sup­port in your life in the most un­ex­pected places.

War­rick, 71, of St. Lewis and Elaine, 65, of Cor­ner Brook, first en­tered each other’s or­bit in the mid-1970s.

Back then, War­rick was em­ployed to look af­ter a CBC trans­mit­ter tower that was put up on the hill near St. Lewis. If any­thing ever went wrong with the tower, it was his duty to call the of­fice to ad­vise them of the is­sue.

But first he would have to give a credit card num­ber to an op­er­a­tor in Cor­ner Brook who would re­di­rect the call.

Oc­ca­sion­ally, the op­er­a­tor who picked up was a woman with a very dis­tinc­tive voice.

“She had a very nice voice, dif­fer­ent from all the other op­er­a­tors,” War­rick re­calls. “Ev­ery time she’d speak I’d know her.”

This woman, of course, was Elaine.

Over the next 25 years, the two rou­tinely made chitchat with each other dur­ing these calls — small talk you would have with any ac­quain­tance: how they were do­ing, or what the weather was like.

Sud­denly, in the year 2000, there was a change.

War­rick con­tin­ued to make calls for his work, but Elaine was never on the other end. He didn’t know if she was laid off or trans­ferred some­where else, but he never heard the woman with the nice voice.

Lit­tle did War­rick know, Elaine was go­ing through a per­sonal tragedy. Then, for the first time in about a year, she picked up his call once again.

He learned her hus­band had passed away. Elaine had taken time off from work when he had first taken ill. It was a dif­fi­cult time for her and when she re­turned to work, she was still griev­ing.

She says she lost the love of her life.

A missed op­por­tu­nity About a year later, Elaine agreed to go on a trip with her brother and his wife to Mary’s Har­bour, near St. Lewis, to go salmon fish­ing.

Elaine ad­vised War­rick of the visit dur­ing one of their calls. They agreed it would be a nice op­por­tu­nity to meet.

Mother Na­ture had other things in mind.

“It was some of the worst weather we’d had for years and years and years,” War­rick says. “It was rain­ing, and black as fog, blow­ing half a storm wind, cold enough to freeze you with north­east wind.”

Due to the weather, Elaine and her fam­ily were un­able to go salmon fish­ing. They were gone again in a day or so.

War­rick didn’t get a chance to meet them.

Be­com­ing friends and meet­ing each other The phone calls con­tin­ued. Later that year, they de­cided to meet in Rocky Har­bour with her brother and his wife ac­com­pa­ny­ing her.

War­rick first headed to Mary’s Har­bour on speed­boat, since St. Lewis wasn’t con­nected to the high­way yet. Then, the con­trac­tor work­ing on the Tran­sLabrador High­way man­aged to squeeze War­rick onto their bus for a ride to Rocky Har­bour.

When he got off, he met Elaine’s brother. They drove down to the beach where she was, near the river, and the two met each other face-to-face for the first time.

“We had a lit­tle chat there and de­cided I’d go to Cor­ner Brook with them,” re­calls War­rick.

He stayed there overnight at a ho­tel be­fore fly­ing back the next day.

The con­ver­sa­tions over the phone con­tin­ued and they de­cided to meet once again, this time in the St. An­thony area.

They found a cabin in St. Lu­naire-Gri­quet and spent two or three nights there.

By now their re­la­tion­ship was build­ing. The chats con­tin­ued. War­rick started send­ing things like bakeap­ples through the mail. Elaine in­vited him to spend that Christ­mas with her in Cor­ner Brook.

He stayed for a while and that fol­low­ing spring, he re­turned.

When he went back to St. Lewis in July 2002 — driv­ing home on the Trans-Labrador High­way for the first time in fact — Elaine, now re­tired, came with him.

Mov­ing in, fix­ing the home, and mak­ing a garden to­gether

St. Lewis was some­thing of a shock for Elaine.

She re­calls step­ping foot into War­rick’s house for the first time.

“War­rick had his house all tore apart and it was just a shell,” she says. “And I said, ‘oh my God.’”

“One month, the kitchen would be in the liv­ing room; the next month, it might be out in the porch.”

Fur­ther­more, she had kept up a flower garden her en­tire life but War­rick didn’t have one.

“I can’t stay here,” she thought. “I’m used to hav­ing a garden.”

Af­ter all, the Labrador soil isn’t the most fer­tile for plant life. War­rick claims he had never seen a flower garden in his life up to then.

But they set to work. Elaine had flow­ers sent up from Cor­ner Brook. They worked to­gether and, af­ter some ini­tial dif­fi­cul­ties, the garden started to grow the fol­low­ing sum­mer.

Fif­teen years later, they have a com­fort­able home to­gether with lit­tle room to spare for the nine beau­ti­ful, colour­ful flower gar­dens sur­round­ing it.

A cancer di­ag­no­sis and get­ting mar­ried

The sud­den move seemed out of the or­di­nary to Elaine’s fam­ily back in 2002. But Elaine stuck it through be­cause she knew the qual­ity of War­rick’s char­ac­ter.

“I knew this man had a good heart, I knew he was a won­der­ful man,” she says.

For five years, they re­mained dear friends.

But then Elaine took ill and was di­ag­nosed with bowel cancer in June 2007.

It was around that time they de­cided to take a leap and spend the rest of their lives to­gether.

“The doc­tor called and told me I needed surgery right away,” re­calls Elaine. “But I told him ‘I can’t come this week be­cause we’re get­ting mar­ried.’”

The big day came on June 30, 2007: they were pro­nounced Mr. and Mrs. War­rick Chubbs. A few days later, on July 4, Elaine went into the op­er­at­ing room in St. An­thony.

She’s been in re­mis­sion ever since.

Their life to­gether Adapt­ing to the Labrador way of life is still an on­go­ing process for Elaine.

She says she gave up a lot to come to Labrador: par­tic­u­larly, her heavy in­volve­ment in mu­sic.

“There are days I am very sad be­cause I love mu­sic and I just feel that I should be where I can take ad­van­tage of that,” she says.

How­ever, she has learned how to rug hook, cro­chet, make jew­ellery, and cook the tra­di­tional Labrador food that War­rick loves so much.

“They don’t want to eat cakes from the is­land, they want Labrador cakes,” Elaine says – for in­stance, what War­rick calls “black­berry slim.”

And one thing she loves is look­ing out the win­dow in the morn­ing and just see­ing how peace­ful it is out in the har­bour. “It’s heart-warm­ing,” she says. Elaine doesn’t be­lieve their story is a fairy tale.

The first cou­ple years they knew each other were very dif­fi­cult as Elaine grieved the death of her first hus­band.

Through the hard­ships of life, she cred­its War­rick for be­ing her “rock.”

“Life can be very lonely and it’s won­der­ful to have some­body to sit and talk with and share a cup of tea, es­pe­cially if you’re go­ing through a dif­fi­cult time,” she says. “It’s won­der­ful to have sup­port. I went through a very dif­fi­cult time and I thank God ev­ery day that War­rick was there to help me.”

And he still is.

“I knew this man had a good heart.” Elaine Chubbs

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

War­rick and Elaine Chubbs of St. Lewis have been mar­ried for 10 years. They told their unique story to the North­ern Pen.

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