You never know where love will bloom.
Sometimes a bite of fresh chocolate candy can stir the heart. Or love can bud on the shelves of a hobby shop where two people share a passion for history and collecting. It also often peeks its head out of flower bouquets or can spring up in an ice cream shop.
Love can also swirl amid everyday errands and can even slip between raindrops.
Love. It’s the most unexpected of visitors that’s also the most welcome. It enters into the ordinariness of everyday life, but brings with it extraordinary magic.
To celebrate one of the calendar’s most love-filled days, these Northville couples share their tales of how and when Cupid shot his arrow into their lives and how and why the winged cherub seems to still be in their midst.
Love at First Bite
Stephanie Acho-Tartoni, who owns Chocolates by Renee in Northville, believes chocolate is the key to love.
“I even met my husband through chocolate,” said Stephanie. And that’s the sweet truth.
As a salesman for a food supplier, David Tartoni would make calls on Northville-area restaurants. One day, he walked by the window, through which he could see Stephanie making chocolates.
"He walked in the shop and purchased some chocolates,” she recalled. “Then I began ordering my ingredients from him.”
Stephanie says David, who’s now a regional manager for Colgate-Palmolive Company, had a plan. “He wanted my mother, who worked in the shop, to fall in love with him first,” she said. “That way, she would be able to tell me that ‘he's a great guy’ and that way I would go out with him.”
Today, Stephanie, 38, and David, 40, have three active children, ages 6, 8 and 11.
They say the glue that keeps them together is their commitment to faith and family.
“We love doing things with our children,” Stephanie said, “and watching them in their activities, such as Irish dance, basketball, football and scouts.” A sense of humor helps, too, she said.
As for V-day plans, the couple will be doing what they always do on Feb. 14 — celebrating their middle child’s birthday.
He Shoots, He Scores!
It was Trevor McInnis’ love for the Detroit Red Wings (and NHL hockey) that drew him to his wife-to-be 19 years ago.
“I was working in my brother’s sports cards and comic book shop in Las Vegas,” recalled Colleen McInnis, who also was going to school in Las Vegas at the time, “and Trevor came in looking for hockey cards.” Apparently he found more than collector cards. Once the two met, Trevor sent Colleen flowers daily until she’d go out with him.
Now, Mr. and Mrs. McInnis, who have since moved to Northville to raise a family and to be near Trevor’s family, have four children, ages 2 to 16.
They own Baby Bliss, a shop that sells baby and children toys, accessories, shoes and clothing, in downtown Northville.
“Our faith plays a huge part in our marriage,” said the 43-year-old mom. A balanced juggling act also keeps things running smoothly — Trevor runs the store while Colleen home-schools the kids.
“I think a sense of humor helps in a marriage, too,” Colleen added. “And of course, we both have a love of sports.” And sports cards.
New Meaning to Love Letters
When Barbara Eko Murphy ran into Tom Murphy at the in Northville 22 years ago, she never in her wildest dreams expected that the two would eventually marry.
But that’s exactly what happened. In this case, the then 48-year-old Barbara was running a mundane errand, and boom, she bumped into love.
The two had known each other casually before, as they both were teachers in the Livonia Public Schools.
“I was divorced when I ran into him at the post office and he was going through one,” Barbara recalled. “He asked me, what does one do when divorced? I told him to call me and I’d give him some suggestions.”
A month later, Barbara called him to check in and see how he was doing with her suggestions. They discovered they lived near each other in Northville, so decided to meet for breakfast at the Dandy Gander Family Restaurant in Northville. Afterward, they took a walk – in the rain! – at Maybury State Park.
“I thought, this man is going to be my buddy. But then we fell in love. I fell in love with my best friend.”
Barbara, 70, and Tom, 69, (“I married a younger man,” she said with a laugh) now live in Hickory Creek Condominiums. The pair complements each other — she’s an artist, who started painting 11 years ago after she had three heart procedures, and he mats and frames her work.
“We have a lot in common (together they have 11 grandchildren). I think that’s important as you get older, to be able to talk about things you both enjoy.”
Blind Date Bliss
When friends of Cheryl and Anthony Nestro set them up on a blind date 15 years ago, all Cheryl could think of was, yikes.
“I always thought blind dates were for people who couldn’t find a date,” said Cheryl, the owner of Tutto Interiors (an interior design shop) in downtown Northville.
The two had a mutual acquaintance who knew Anthony better than she knew Cheryl. “The only thing our friend knew about me was I was Italian (Anthony also is Italian),” Cheryl recalled. “The only reason she thought we would be a good match was our common heritage.”
Cheryl was concerned because she had heard through the grapevine that “this Anthony guy was every mother’s dream son-in-law,” she said. “My first thought was, oh boy, he must be a nerd.”
Before going out, Anthony, who now runs Showhomes Northville-Grosse Pointe (a home staging company), called Cheryl several times and they kept missing each other. Finally, the two set a time for a dinner date in Birmingham.
“When we met in person, we were both so surprised,” Cheryl said. “He was a doll!”
The evening went quickly and they enjoyed animated conversation for some three hours before taking a walk and stopping for ice cream (in cold weather, but who noticed?).
Cheryl’s inner-voice told her he was a keeper. And keep him she did. They were married the following year.
With V-Day on the horizon, Cheryl, 53, thinks about how they use to fuss over the holiday when they were first married, and “have beautiful dinners at home with flowers and chocolates,” she said. Over the years, the couple, who lives in Northville, has learned that the best way to stay married is to think of every day as Valentine’s Day, Cheryl explained.
“We understand now more than ever through life’s obstacles how blessed we are,” Cheryl said. “We have a great blend of our strengths and weaknesses.”
One of their favorite things in life is their dog, Rocky. “He brings great joy to our lives,” Cheryl said. “We love walking with him.”
They also enjoy dining together. “We’re Italian,” Cheryl said, “so we love to eat.”