The epitome of a “meet cute,” Hal and Anya Bomgardner met in the elevator shortly after she moved into their shared apartment building.
“The elevator opened, and there she is,” Hal said of his bride. “I was attracted to her immediately. … I thought, ‘OK, I have to find out where she lives.’”
“I thought, ‘Ooh, this is a handsome man,’” Anya said.
They politely said “Hello” to each other the first time they saw each other, but neither took the chance to ask the other out. The next time they shared the elevator, the conversation was direct and to the point:
“Do you date?” Hal asked.
“I do. Do you?” Anya replied.
“Yes, I do,” Hal replied back.
They decided to go on a coffee date at St. James Espresso, in the same building where they live. Things went so well that they decided to go on a dinner date that night at Le Grand Bistro Americain.
“I can’t believe I got in a car with a perfect stranger,” Anya said, reflecting on that evening.
They soon discovered that they could see each other from their apartments’ balconies, where she would hang over hers and he would look up from his each day, hoping to catch a glimpse of one another. They also left love notes at each other’s doors.
“I have never been out on that balcony so many times,” Hal said. “I was just hoping I could hear (the sound of her voice).”
“He was too good to be true,” Anya said of Hal.
Six months into their relationship, they went for dinner again at Le Grand Bistro. As dessert — chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne gelatin — came out, Hal handed Anya a card. She opened it to find a marriage proposal and quickly discovered that her engagement ring was inside of the gelatin.
“I had no idea (he was planning this),” Anya said. “He’s so thoughtful.”
“Luckily, she said, ‘Yes,’” Hal said.
“Of course I said, ‘Yes,’” Anya added.
Hal, 83, and Anya, 80, didn’t meet in their teens, 20s or even their 30s. Instead, they met just last year.
“Neither of us knew how to dream this well,” Hal said of their relationship.
Both have been married before and are widowed, and they didn’t really think they would be married again.
“Not in a million years,” Anya said.
They were married in a quiet Valentine’s Day ceremony at Hal’s brother’s home on Whidbey Island, and they had a larger reception this spring at Le Grand Bistro.
“They have such a sweet love story — kind of a modern day ‘Romeo and Juliet’ with a happy ending,” their friend Bonni Sundberg, who attended the reception, said.
Anya said she is amazed at how attentive Hal is.
“He draws me a bubble bath at night, and he brings me coffee in bed in the morning,” Anya said. “He plays the piano beautifully and sings while I do the dishes at night. I’m very spoiled.”
For Hal, he’s simply amazed that she is choosing to spend her days with him.
“She’s different — she’s special,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier that she’s wearing my ring on her finger.”