WOODLAND (CBS13) – For Elizabeth and Kenneth Gage, the last two years have gone from heartbreaking to heartwarming.  Video from May 2020 might make you shed a tear, when Kenneth surprised his bride with balloons and flowers at a Woodland Rehab facility.  Due to COVID, there were no visitors and they both shared a kiss through a glass door.  It would be the first time since they were teenagers that the two were separated on their wedding anniversary.

“They heard from the both of us, how badly we wanted to be together,” said Elizabeth.

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“I don’t care if it’s one hour, two hours, ten days, ten years, I just want to be with her,” said Kenneth.

And now, he can be with his wife. Exactly two years later and after surviving COVID, they’re finally celebrating their 69th wedding anniversary n person.

“They’re way more in love now than even when I was growing up,” said their daughter Darcie Mindel.

Mindel provided perhaps the best peek into just how much the two love each other.

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“They always celebrated their birthdays in black tie on their own, they didn’t go to their restaurants. My dad put on a tux, my mom put on an evening gown and they had dinners my whole life,” said Mindel, explaining the two would simply dress up to stay home.  “They didn’t have money for a steak dinner and they didn’t want to go out for a steak dinner. They just wanted to be together.”

So what’s the secret to their special bond? Kenneth says it isn’t love, but friendship…where it all started.

“Love is easy but friendship is something that happens only once or twice to a person. It’s something that just doesn’t break,” said Kenneth.

“I just want young people to know, marriage takes work and it’s so rewarding,” said Elizabeth.

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