OKEECHOBEE — With Valentines Day coming up, one of our readers thought an inspiring love story would be just the thing and shared one she had recently heard. Sandra and Andy Galletto celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary on Feb. 14, but their love story began long before that. When they first met, Sandra was 9 and Andy was 11. Andy’s foster mother was sick, and his foster dad put an ad in the paper looking for a nanny to help with the kids. The family moved in with a woman who happened to live across the street from Sandra. As children, they did the usual things, like riding bikes and playing softball in the streets whenever they had the chance.
When Andy was 16, he left to live with his sister up north, but he came back when he was in 12th grade to finish his senior year here. The entire time he was away, they wrote love letters back and forth, but when he returned, she was dating someone else. Both of them had dated others off and on during their years apart, they explained. She wasn’t planning to break up with the boy, but found out he was cheating on her, so that solved that problem, she said. She went to the fair with Andy in 1983 when she was 15. It was their one and only date. He asked her to marry him before he went to Korea, but she said she was only a freshman in high school, and her parents wouldn’t let her go anywhere. She had plans to go to college too, she said. He was going off to the Army and didn’t want to go by himself, and the next time she saw him was on his wedding night with his new wife, his best friend’s cousin. They ended up having two beautiful children together, but the marriage didn’t last. They were just children themselves, they explained.
Later, Sandra got married, and she and her husband had two children of their own, but she never stopped thinking about Andy and wondering if he was OK. When Andy was in Iraq in 1990, she asked her husband if he would mind if she wrote to him, and he said that would be fine, so she did, but she never got a reply. She just knew in her heart he was not going to come home, she said.
In 1998 when home computers became popular, she decided to look him up, and she found him. When she called, he couldn’t believe it was really him! He had just changed his last name. He had found his birth mom, changed his name to her name and was in the process of moving to New York to be near her. If she had not called that night, she would have missed him.
People ask her if she wished they had gotten together when they were young, but she said she is glad they didn’t. They would never have made it. They had a lot of growing up to do.
When they got married, he told her they would never have children, because he had had a vasectomy many years earlier and then had a reversal, but he and his second wife tried for many years with no success. Surprisingly, after two years of marriage, they had a beautiful daughter they named Sophia. She is 18 now. Between the two of them, they have five children and seven grandchildren, and they have very friendly relationships with the exes, they said.
Andy has since found his biological father as well and said everything about finding his family has been good. He worked for the Department of Defense inspecting helicopter maintenance until his contract ended last May. They own the Thirsty Cow Drive Thru Store.
Their plan is for this marriage to be until death they do part, they said.