It’s puppy love all over again — 70 years later.
Lauris Hiner, 89, was still teenager when Paul, her high school sweetheart, left to fight in World War II. The two lost touch after that, marrying other loves and starting families. But three years ago, Paul, 90, began sending his long lost love sweet messages and rose bouquets once he learned that Lauris lost her spouse, as he also did.
“The first time he sent her the roses she didn’t even know who it was from. The card just said, ‘All my love, Paul’ and she thought, ‘Who in the world is this?’ ” Hiner’s daughter, Susan Broaddus, tells PEOPLE while declining to give Paul’s last name to protect his privacy. “A few days later he just called her and shocked the socks off of her.”
Broaddus says Hiner, of Redding, California, lost her husband 15 years ago, and Paul’s wife passed away about 10 years ago. She says that when Paul learned that Hiner is a widow, he immediately sought her out: “He said if he had known sooner that my dad had passed away, he would’ve married her,” Broaddus says.
“She’s giddy about it. She’s like a high school girl about it, with big smiles and stuff,” Broaddus says of her mother. “It’s really special for her to have — you know, because my dad’s been gone for 15 years. I think it’s pretty awesome that she has somebody that’s an old friend that still thinks of her.”
After years of sweet phone calls and dozens of roses, Broaddus took her mother to Seattle, Washington, for a date with Paul. There, Paul took Hiner, Broaddus and Hiner’s best friend Millie to a “swanky” restaurant where he doted over Hiner the entire evening. Broaddus says her mother was very nervous before the outing.
“She was a wreck the other night when we went out to dinner,” she tells PEOPLE of her mom.
“She kept saying, ‘Oh, I don’t think he wants to see me. I think he wants to just remember me like I used to be. He’s gonna be disappointed. I don’t look the same.’ And I kept saying, ‘Mom, he doesn’t look the same either I’m sure. You’ll be fine.’ ”
Photos of the date showed the couple smiling, and Hiner sported a wide smile as Paul planted a kiss on her cheek. Broaddus says Paul was the “perfect gentleman” and gave Hiner his undivided attention.
“He said, ‘I don’t want to be rude, ladies. But I wanna talk to my gal,” Broaddus says.
Broaddus describes Paul as stylish and sweet, noting that he has a great sense of humor.
“When I took them back to his apartment building, he and my mom were sitting in the back seat and he leaned over to kiss her goodbye,” she recalls.
“They had their seatbelts on and it kind of inhibited him from leaning over and giving her a kiss. He said, ‘Well, I see this car wasn’t made for lovers.’ ”
Broaddus says Hiner has been on cloud nine since the date, and she adds that Paul has been eager to see Hiner again soon.
“He said he had a lovely time and was hoping we would come back next week,” she says of Paul. “He was very doting to my mom. He’s pretty spry for his age and he helped her walk down the stairs at the restaurant.”
She adds: “It’s really sweet and I love to see her happy and with a smile on her face.”