Northern Michigan In Focus: Uniquely Loved

I love you.

Three simple words that often come with a lot of weight.

Yet, they can be thrown around, overused and then lose their meaning.

But you can be certain, when one Clare County woman hears it, or sees it, she knows her husband means every word.

Corey Adkins and Michelle Dunaway introduce us to the couple in this week’s Northern Michigan in Focus.

Gary L. Smith is a salt of the earth, hardworking farmer who’s earned all he has.

"My dad used to say if you worked hard, kept your nose straight you’d end up with a piece of the pie. So when I built the house, I built a pie room that’s got the designs of pies in it. That’s a little afterthought, something for him I guess," says Gary.

But like so many men, he doesn’t always know how to express his feelings.

"I think he told me he loved me on our wedding day and he didn’t tell me again for another 20 years," says Penny Smith.

His wife Penny has put up with it all, for better or for worse.

"He’s a man of very few words. He doesn’t show much emotion and stuff. He’s very set in his ways and what he says is. I just ignore him," explains Penny.

But Gary has learned how to send a message that’s pretty hard to ignore.

Like his marriage proposal in 1998.

"I just took the tractor and the planter, plant it in the field, and I asked her to marry me," explains Gary.

Penny adds, "Then he made me go up in an airplane and look at it from the airplane, and I cried and said yes."

And today, most of the time, Gary still just assumes Penny knows how he feels

"They should know that. If you say it too much, say it over and over doesn’t make it any different than it is," says Gary.

But women don’t always work that way and need a little more reassurance. 

"He said he was going to tell all of Clare County or everybody in the county he loved me, and I said, ‘You ain’t going to do that. You can’t even tell me you love me!’" explains Penny.

Gary says, "I had a field that I didn’t know what to do with. It was late in the year so I took the planter out there and wrote that I loved her and just let it, took care of it for the summer, let it grow."

And when it was perfect Gary took a picture from above and told the county by putting it in the paper.

"Put it in the Clare County Review and it ended up right on top of the obituaries," says Gary.

Penny adds, "Course they put it in the obit! Not dead yet."

No, this relationship is very much alive and kicking.

And apparently so are the cows. And they’re hungry, eating up most of Gary’s masterpiece, but the meaning was not lost.

"I love my husband, also, very much," says Penny.

And Penny says she knows how Gary feels, even when it’s not completely spelled out for her.

"All the little things they do for you shows more and tells more than just saying I love you, and he’s good at that,” says Penny. 

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