Rich & Suzie {A Love Legacy} Mishawaka, Indiana

Rich and Suzie Palicki first met in summer school. It wasn't the place where you'd think love at first sight was a possibility, but when Suzie first saw Rich, the sparks flew. It was love. And it hit her hard. You could say the 'love bug' hit Rich too, because he asked her out soon after they officially met. He swept her off her feet, with his charm and the beautiful flowers he often showered her with. They were engaged their senior year in high school, and because they simply wanted to get married and start their lives together, something small and secret was what they had in mind!

It was August 8th, 1964, when they said "I Do" in a little church just across the Michigan state line. It was an elopement that was quite the surprise to both sides of the family! Although they were young, just 18 and 19, the love Rich and Suzie shared for each other was undeniable. And for me, that rang true as they recalled even some of the smallest details of that special day. A year later, the couple happily welcomed their first child, a daughter! They settled in Mishawaka, Indiana, and that's where Rich and Suzie began pursuing various jobs, which led them to acquire Circle Oil Company. Throughout their 32 years in business, it became a family affair, up until the doors closed just five years ago. All three of the Palicki's children, and even some of their seven grandchildren walked through the doors to learn the trade and help keep the business afloat. While retiring was a welcomed change, the closing of the business was a heartbreak. But as I sat and talked with Rich and Suzie about this grand venture, their faces lit up with the countless memories and stories that are still the highlights of their 32 years of success, together. It wasn't the sadness of closing that they dwelled on, but the moments and memories made. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed listening to such wonderful stories - and seeing such beautiful pictures of what this family built. It's a legacy that their children - and their children's children can carry on!

Throughout their life together, there have been many ups, including amazing adventures in Spain, Hawaii and the Bahamas! I really loved hearing the many stories from these once in a lifetime trips! However, they will tell you it hasn't all been perfect - and there have been some pretty scary downs too. It was nearing their 40th anniversary, when Suzie went to the hospital with horrible stomach pain. She later learned that she had kidney cancer. Thankfully, it was isolated to one, and that kidney was successfully removed. But not long after her scare with cancer, Rich received devastating news. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer. After your own battle, it's the last thing you want to hear ... that the man you love will also battle the same disease. But, through their doctors' care, and the love of this amazing couple's family, not to mention the love between these two, both are now cancer free.

As we continued to chat and I listened to their wonderful stories and the beautiful moments that have made up their life, I couldn't help but smile at their sheer joy, as they talked about their family - as they talked about each other. I mean, after 53 years, if you can still look at each other with adoration in your eyes, I'd say that's the kind of forever love that can get you through life's greatest challenges. Not to mention, humor too! Rich puts a smile Suzie's face, that I can imagine no one else can do. And if you saw it, it's that undeniable kind of love. The kind you hope for - the kind of love that when you find it, you hold on, and you don't let go.