The road to wedded bliss was paved with obstacles the first time Sig and Fern Sigafoos married in December 1974.
"There were a number of factors that made it difficult," says Fern. "It wasn't that we didn't love each other."
The couple divorced two years later, only to find their way back to each other after 35 years apart.
"I wondered about him over the years," says Fern. "But I never imagined this part of our story."
Sig, on the other hand, held on to hope.
"I could picture this," he says, smiling at his bride of seven years.
First time around
Sig and Fern met in 1973 at Navarre's Restaurant in Phoenix, Ariz., where he was a bartender and she was a hostess and waitress. Fern, a widow at 30, had four kids and was trying to make ends meet. Sig had two children from his first marriage, who were living with their mother in Mesquite, Texas.
"One day, the boss asked if I could work on a Saturday," says Fern. "I told him I spent Saturdays with my kids. Sig overheard the conversation and offered to watch my kids so I could work."
Sig still remembers that day. He took Fern's kids to a drive-in theater to see The Poseidon Adventure.
"Sig moved to Dallas not long after, but we wrote letters back and forth," says Fern. "He came back to Arizona for Thanksgiving 1974 and said, 'I think we should get married.'"
The couple wed on December 26, 1974. After the wedding, Fern and her kids joined Sig in Dallas.
"My kids had a hard time when we moved to Texas," says Fern. "They were 16, 14, 12, and 5 at the time. They'd left behind friends and family. It wasn't an easy transition."
Eventually, Fern felt it was in her kids' best interest to return to Arizona.
"I didn't want to leave Sig, and he didn't want me to go, but the kids needed to move home," says Fern. "Two years later, he filed for divorce."
Exploring new opportunities in Dallas
In Dallas, Sig's career took off. He worked as a printed circuit board designer for Rockwell Collins, a job he loved. His office was at the corner of Arapaho Road and Central Expressway, and he'd often travel up Coit Road after work on Friday evenings to stock up on groceries and supplies at the Sam's Club in Plano before heading home to Lavon Lake, northeast of Dallas.
"I was driving up Coit Road one day in 2005 when I saw a sign advertising Highland Springs, a new retirement community coming soon," says Sig. "I looked online and saw Erickson Living managed 15 other communities across the country with over 17,000 residents. I figured 17,000 people couldn't be wrong."
Sig stopped at the sales trailer located on the property and spoke with Sales Counselor Lauren Rozdilsky.
"There were two primary selling points," says Sig. "Lauren told me the community would have full-time doctors on staff, and that Erickson Living offers a Home for Life commitment."
Highland Springs maintains a Resident Care Fund designed specifically to assist eligible residents who outlive their resources. No one has ever been asked to leave the community because of a genuine inability to pay. The Residence and Care Agreement has complete details.
Sig put down a deposit and was one of the first people to move to Highland Springs when it opened in the fall of 2006.
Back in touch
Fern, meanwhile, had remarried and moved to Bellefontaine, Ohio. In 2010, she received an unexpected email. After decades of no contact, Sig reached out to Fern's high school to get her email address.
"He was emailing to let me know he'd been diagnosed with throat cancer," says Fern. "He wrote, 'I know wherever you're living, you're involved in church. Please say a prayer for me.'"
In a whirlwind season of life, Fern's husband Ron was also diagnosed with cancer and passed away in 2011. Sig's cancer went into remission, and he's been cancer-free ever since.
"After Ron died, Sig invited me to visit Highland Springs," says Fern. "He offered to fly me down to Dallas and book a guest suite at the community."
Fern traveled to Highland Springs in September 2012. The couple spent an elegant date night at the Highland Springs gala, took pictures around the pond adjacent to the Hillcrest Clubhouse, and rekindled their romance.
Two months later, Sig flew to Ohio for Thanksgiving and returned again at Christmas.
"While he was in Ohio for Christmas, we decided to get married a second time," says Fern. "We married on the same day as before, December 26."
Love gets the last word
This time, Fern's move to Dallas was the opposite experience. At Highland Springs, she had a built-in network of friends, activities, and opportunities to get involved. Sig welcomed his new wife into his Fordham-style apartment home, and the couple began to dream of adventures they could share together.
"Our kids get along great," says Fern. "And we're blessed with grandchildren and great-grandchildren."
Sig and Fern spent 12 days in Italy in November 2018, where Sig fulfilled a life-long dream of climbing the Leaning Tower of Pisa. They traveled to London and Paris in April 2019 and hopped across the pond again in November 2019 to Ireland, where Sig kissed the Blarney Stone and then leaned in to kiss his wife.
This year, they're planning an April trip to Amsterdam, Luxembourg, and Belgium and a November trip to Germany.
"When we married the second time, I thought it would turn out really well," says Sig. "And it has."