As Valentine’s Day approaches, I think about a wonderful couple I met while working in senior living. At the age of 90 & 94 Ann & Jack were true sweethearts, they would hold hands every time they were together & he always called her honey or baby. What was really remarkable about them is that he is afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease, yet somehow, he always knew her, even though he might not have known her name on any given day.
Theirs is a true love story. Originally from a small town in Arkansas, sweethearts from grade school through high school. Most every childhood memories Ann said she has, Jack was a part of for her. Life interfered as they grew older and he left for the service, and Ann went about having her own life. They each married other people and began their families. Ann moved to a small rural town outside of Houston with her husband and children. She had no idea where Jack settled after coming back from his time overseas or if he ever married. She loved her husband dearly and had a perfectly wonderful life. Sadly, Ann’s husband passed away when she was 83. One day, close to 2 years later, she was reading her local paper and saw an obituary with a last name that sounded familiar to her. It turned out to be Jack’s last name & his wife had just passed. Small world that it is, Jack & his family had settled in a small town 6 miles away from Ann’s. She sent Jack a condolence card & a quick note expressing her sympathies. Jack saved the address from the card, as this was an old childhood friend, he would like to touch base with later, just to see how she was doing & see where life had taken her. Jack waited one year after his wife passed, before he would call Ann, out of respect for his wife whom he loved very much. When he called Ann, they set up a time to meet & visit. Ann said it was like 60+ years had never passed. Their talks and laughs just fell naturally into place. Both of their families were happy they both found friendship after losing their spouses. 9 months after that second “first” date, Ann said they got married. She often joked she “just knew people were going to talk about the whole 9 months thing & expect a baby!” They had a wonderful year together, and then the Alzheimer’s diagnosis came for Jack. Ann, having gone through this illness with another family member feared the worst. But she now feels that love conquers all. Though afflicted with such a sad illness, they were both determined to make the most of their lives together. Date nights, walks in the park, and time together became their daily routine. While Jack is pleasantly confused most days, he is always loving, affectionate and happy to see her. Ann just looks at each day they have as an added blessing. They are quite a delightful couple to spend time with, with always a kind word for each other, a hug, and they truly enjoy being together.
I guess the point to this story is, love can happen for all of us, no matter what age. Good and bad things happen when you’re in love. Embrace the good days and love to your fullest ability. Jack didn’t always know Ann by name, but his heart knew. And they both knew to love every minute they have together.
– Michelle Rainer