When Suzanne Brazael is asked what newlywed life with her husband Tom is like, her answer is simple: It’s never too late to love.
At ages 74 and 81, respectively, Suzanne and Tom are celebrating their first Valentine’s Day as a married couple this year after tying the knot in a Turlock backyard last October. Their story began decades ago, however, and is a reminder that some things are just meant to be.
The couple lives together at Covenant Living of Turlock these days, but they first met through Suzanne’s nursery business in Los Banos about 29 years ago. Tom was caring for his first wife, who was fighting cancer, and they struck up a friendship with Suzanne. The three would spend hours at the nursery chatting in between customers, with Suzanne encouraging her new friends in the face of such a horrible disease.
Two and a half years ago, long after Tom had sadly lost his wife and Suzanne, too, had been alone for decades, she spotted him at a poinsettia nursery — but didn’t say hello. It had been nearly 30 years, and Suzanne wasn’t sure if Tom would even remember her. A week later, she got a second chance when a friend invited her to an Air Force band concert.
“I thought maybe, just maybe, I would run into Tom again,” Suzanne said. “I knew he liked that sort of thing…I prayed to the Lord that I would have another opportunity to say hello.”
To Suzanne’s delight, Tom was at the concert.
“This time, I went up to him,” she laughed.
Tom was surprised to see Suzanne, and he of course remembered her. They didn’t have much time to chat before the concert started, but afterward he asked if she would like to go to coffee with him. It was the start of their whirlwind romance, but the COVID pandemic began shortly after, seemingly ending what had just begun as both stayed home to protect themselves.
“For the sake of ourselves and for the sake of others that we lived with, we wanted to honor that,” Tom said of staying home. “So, we didn’t see each other for a while — until Suzanne sent me a text…I immediately said yes, absolutely, to seeing her again.”
The pair mostly spent time together during Bible studies with family members, taking their relationship slowly until one day Suzanne gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
“Both of us were really quiet and shy, and because the Bible studies included her children, I wanted to be very careful. I’m not a forward kind of guy,” Tom said.
“We spent a lot of time with the kids so we were never really alone together,” Suzanne added. “I just watched how Tom was so tender with the children and the little ones, and it just made my heart jump.”
Tom said as the pair fell in love, he drove home singing after each visit with Suzanne.
Upon realizing their feelings for each other were mutual, Tom and Suzanne became engaged and eventually wed under a backyard tree on Oct. 23, 2021. Tom walked Suzanne down an aisle covered in rose petals and the two cut their wedding cake under a cloudless sky. Rain earlier in the day had stopped just in time for the ceremony, and started up again shortly after.
As husband and wife, Suzanne and Tom are enjoying married life by reading the Bible together, learning more about each other and spending time with their families.
“We have a lot of catching up to do over the last 30 years,” Tom said. “Now we can be grandparents together, and we’re still going.”