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In this section, I have given our readers a chance to share with us their unique love story. Let us celebrate the love we have; treasure it; and be thankful for it.
Dianne was the first thing I ever really wanted in life and was serious about getting. I told her I was going to marry her on our second date and her look clearly said "oh no a weirdo". So I never mentioned it again until I knew she'd say yes. She was the little red headed girl in charlie brown. Celtic, quiet, and self assured. I was a giant hun apparently although when we married at 19/18 I don't think either of us knew what we were. We would have married later but her father refused to let her stay out past 11 so we moved the date up. Her parents seemed fixated on us getting pregnant but we weren't looking to become parents until we had some vague idea who we were. We had a couple of shorter jobs and quit to travel and hitch hike across Canada and down the west coast. We lived outside San Fransisco for six months in 1973. I could see the city from the deck on the side of the mountain and we bopped around chinatown, stinson beach, muir woods, and I learned how to paint. We flew back and got real jobs, met all our lifetime friends over the next few years, went out almost every night and on weekends while we were going to night school. I get exhausted just reading my journals of those years. Those people bear little resemblance to us in the middle years or us in the later years before AD.
My grandmother told me when I was little at a funeral - "our bodies are just our houses here on earth. When we pass, we just move on to a different house in heaven." Maybe what the gypsy was saying was you can only find love within your self - your own self/house, only then will you know and accept love.
..........THE HAPPIEST TIME OF MY LIFE
I was on school break with my parents at the same resort where they met. A young man who had worked at the resort while in college was also on break from the army. We met and I told my parents that this was the person I would someday marry. We carried on a long courtship via the mail. This was long before internet. Finally his army stint was over. He drove through the night to get to my grandparent's house to meet the family. He fell asleep on the sofa. Valentine's Day arrived. We planned a dinner at a restaurant we couldn't afford (I was still in school and his first job out of college netted $28,000/yr). When we were seated he presented me with a very corny card. Tucked inside was a small box with the most beautiful diamond ring I have ever seen. That was in the year 1959. Thirteen months later we had our fairy tale wedding. Bill treated me like a princess all of our lives together. We loved each other until the monster stole him. It is four years since he left this world. I'm fine. The good memories are finally coming back and I am happy again.
We watched our wedding DVD yesterday. It was fun to point out people and for bob to see us 21 years ago. Fun to see us laugh and dancing. What I found amazing, was while he couldn't remember or did know a lot of people, when we were talking about our sons in the wedding. His son was his best man. He puzzled, then stated that "he must have been married before if he had a son". I explained he had but was divorced 3 years before we met. He didn't remember his first wife's name or anything about that other life/time. While he's lost so much, names, faces, he still could think logically. I am so happy we have that DVD I will make a point of watching it together more often. He was surprised that he had a tummy and weighted a lot more back then. Now he is pretty much skin and bones. He almost didn't recognize himself. I dug this out thinking about our wedding "story" invitation for Joan Stairman Gershman's request.
My oldest sister’s husband was stationed in Hawaii. Her two sons who were just a few years younger than me thought their aunt needed help finding guys. They would take my picture around showing it to sailors asking if they wanted to write to their aunt so I had a few guys I wrote to. Art was managing the roller rink on base (tough duty) where he got to know the kids. He went home with them for lunch one day, saw my picture and asked who it was. He wrote one letter to me in October 1969 then after I sent him a Christmas card in December he wrote back telling me he was getting married in June so we shouldn’t write to each other any more.
He went to work at Sweethearts Plastics where he worked before he went into the Navy. In August I broke out with a rash all over my body which the ld family doctor said was my tonsils – had never had a problem with them. I had to expose as much skin to the sun as possible and take baths twice a day in starch water! Not fun for a newlywed. Three days later when I got out of the hospital he went into the VA hospital in Boston for an abscess tooth – a tooth the Navy supposedly did a root canal on but did not get all the root. So here I was recovering from a T&A while his parents took me daily in to visit him the week he was in there. I would have preferred staying home recovering but they would not hear of it! I would be considered rude and unappreciative if I did not take them up on their offer.
For our first anniversary we bought a peek-a-poo puppy. She was adorable and a lot of fun. Also, one of Art’s nieces came to visit often. After a year I started visiting the doctor to find out why I had not gotten pregnant. That was put on hold after 1 ½ years I had had enough of his parents and the New England lifestyle – told him I was going back to the northwest, he could stay or come with me. He followed and the rest is history!
I am currently married to the love of my life. Dave and I first met when my family moved to SD when I was age 10, and I was enrolled in the local parochial school. Dave and I immediately liked each other. We were an ‘item’ in 7th & 8th grade. While not allowed to date individually, we would arrange to go to the movies with a friend and ‘just happen’ to meet at the theater and ‘accidentally’ end up sitting by each other. After 8th grade we went to the local public high school and each went our separate ways. We went to colleges on opposite ends of SD, met other people, and eventually got married to someone.
"Maryland is not known for Tornados, so you know that when we get one, something miraculous is bound to happen. One came through the Hilendale section of Baltimore County on June 17, 1973. It overturned a car and then ripped through an apartment complex somehow tearing the roofs off of every other building. I didn’t live anywhere near there, but had been at my step-mother’s house to help her with some chores. On our way back home, my buddy and I had stopped at a restaurant in Hillendale. We heard all the sirens and watched the fire trucks and police cars race by and a morbid curiosity drove us to walk back to check out all the excitement. As we stood looking at the destruction, I noticed Mary with two of her friends directly behind us. I kept looking back and tried to work up the courage to say something to her. I couldn’t think of an ice breaker until I overheard one of them say, “Isn’t this some way to start our vacation?” Now, how do three young women all start vacation the same day? I turned around and asked Mary, “Do you teach?” She replied, “Yes, do you?” No, I didn’t, but the ice was broken and we began a discussion which resulted in learning her name and phone number.
As for Mary”s story, she wasn’t supposed to be there either. Her plan had been to drive to other side of the county to buy a TV. She started out in beautiful, bright sun, but before she even got to the beltway, it began to rain torrentially. She turned around and by the time she got home, it was sunny. She turned around and again, the skies darkened and opened up. This happened three times and she actually looked heavenward and said, “Okay God. I get the message. You don’t me to go there today.”
I took her to dinner the following Friday and on Saturday went with her when she bought the infamous TV. (After all, she needed a man to carry the TV to and from her car!) There was a crab house within walking distance of her apartment and if you know anything about eating steamed hard crabs, it is very leisurely and time consuming. We would talk and talk for over two hours over a dozen crabs. By August, I proposed and when she accepted, we discussed which school holiday we wanted to utilize for the wedding and honeymoon. We didn’t want to complicate things by doing it over Christmas and I didn’t really want to wait until Easter or the following summer. That left Thanksgiving, so our wedding day, November 17, was five months to the day from when we met!
This year is our thirty-fifth anniversary. I can honestly say that I love her more (or at least differently) than I did on our wedding day. She is now totally dependent upon me which I view as an honor. We have been through good times and bad raising two boys, but we have always been through them together. I regret that our “golden years” are not so golden, but we have had a chance to enjoy retirement before things got too bad. When she retired in 2002, she was already exhibiting early memory difficulties. We tried to take a trip every six months. We have been to Hawaii, The Alaska Inside Passage, The Panama Canal, The Mexican Riviera, Amsterdam, and this past spring to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. That last trip was pretty hard on both of us and is probably our last.
Like all of us, I know what the future will bring. I just don’t know when. I only hope that she remains as happy and compliant as she is now. As long as we have that smile, I can do anything."
It was the beginning of Sophomore year in High School. Three friends and I decided to go to a square dance with dates. I was having trouble finding a date. Then my mother suggested that I ask "M..A.." I was hesitant to do so, because she was by far the smartest kid in the class, but it was getting close to the time for the dance, so I asked her. She knew I had already asked almost every other girl in the class, but, fortunately, accepted. We had so much fun that I never seriously dated another girl. Eight years later, when she had finished her Masters Degree and I was still in graduate school, we were married. This coming June will be our 54th wedding anniversary. (Side note: The four guys of us formed a club in high school and still get together once a year, even though we are scattered from Maine to California)
M and I had a wonderful life, raising three great kids, enjoying family trips, and then taking major trips all over the world, including 2 with our oldest daughter and her husband. Four years ago our oldest daughter said she was concerned about her mother's memory, so we had tests done and confirmed the diagnosis of Alzheimer's. One hard part of this is that in high school she had photographic memory.
Our days of travel are now over. I lost her once when she turned the wrong way coming out of the Ladies Room at the Philadelphia Airport. At the insistence of our daughter, we have moved into a Retirement home, so I don't have to do so much cooking, cleaning, etc. But we are still able to have fun together - watching TV or Netflix movies, taking walks, talking with others in the Retirement home or our chuch. She is still the same sweet girl I married. She tells me frequently that she loves me and needs me, so I don't mind being the caregiver 24/7. She tries to help me around the house, but makes so many mistakes that it's easier for me to do it myself.
I know I still have a rough road ahead, but we have our memories and pictures of all our trips. Although our kids and other family members live far away from us, they are willing to come and help out once in a while so I can get away (as with my friends from high school).
Larry and I have been married almost 22 years. We met at his sister's home when I was visiting with my mother..I was ending a very abusive marriage and we found each other in what I call a God thing...
I had 2 boys - 2 and 3, was pregnant with my third child about 4 months along. We began to see each other after months. We were married a year later..
He has been the father of my children ever since. Taught them about being honest, about commitment, about unconditional love, as our oldest son said one day "oh mom what will we do when superman doesn't know who we are especially you momma"? Well, I told him I know he will always know in his heart who I am even if he is unsure of my face...Larry is going to be 54 this year and he is slipping in ways most people would not understand....But, we take each day and thank God that he gave us all these years.....We are buying the thing we planned to buy for our 25th anniversary now, as I figure he may not enjoy his HDTV flat screen latter.....We take little rides in the truck, eat subway sandwiches watching the river, and we watch the programs on TV that he is sure he has never seen, and I smile and say wasn't that a good one...
OK I figure that I will never know someone again who has loved me as much or as deep again. I have decided that when he is gone I will then take some trips we planned to do but he cannot now. He will be with me, he will be with our grandchildren when they are born in the future. He will be apart of the stories of how he saved our family and showed us that we were worth loving.
We were 10 or 11 in grammer school and at recess the other children teased me that, "Bernie loves you, ha-ha-ha-ha-ha." It meant nothing to me, his love was unrequited. I was more interested in hanging by my knees from the monkey bar or climbing to the top of a tree. Years later I would learn that little boys do that and I felt bad that I hadn't cared. We continued on thru middle school and high school, barely nodding to each other, I had my share of boyfriends--until he asked me to the senior prom. By the time he brought me home that night I knew I'd spend the rest of my life with him.
Now he lives on in our children and grandchildren, but there are times when I miss his love and altho I never expect someone to love me that way, over a lifetime, ever again--I feel blessed and grateful that it all happened that way.
Our story really starts back years before we ever met. I was about 14 - not popular. I used to get so down and wonder why in the world guys just weren't in to me. I finally decided to pray about it. I didn't like obsessing about it. So I told God that I would not worry about boyfriends or the lack thereof, if He would tell me when I meet the one He has planned for me. Now fastforward about 7 years...
M and I met through an early computer dating service in
Houston, Texas. Remember key punched datacards?
After several months M and I decided to marry.
WhoooHooo! Was that ever a good match? We still love
each other 41+ years later. Our son is happily married
and has three children. They visit us every week or two.
doctor said the medication strategy would be to keep her
out of a nursing for as long as possible. That has worked
and she still lives at home with me, now her 24/7
caregiver as well as best friend and lover. In 2007 she
had three fainting spells due to irregular heartbeat and a
recent close call with pneumonia.
"Yesterday" and Simon and Garfunkel's "Homeward Bound."
John and I met long before we fell in love, so we were
friends for years. He's always been a special person, full
of life and fun. He has never met a stranger, and will talk
to anyone. We have now been together 20 years. I can't
imagine my life without him even with AD. He is still the
devoted husband who tells me everyday how much he
loves me and he wouldn't want to be without me. Even
though I was married before, I didn't know what deep
romantic love was until John. I'm glad we still have that
love and connection even though AD has robbed us of
the future we planned.
I have known my husband since we were sixteen...We
lived 11 miles apart in separate small towns. We married
at 18 while he was in college. Upon his graduation, he
went into the Air Force and became a pilot and then a
During his 10 years in the service, we had 5 children and
moved every 18 months. After leaving the service, we
both became teachers until our retirement. We loved to
be together, had friends, but needed no one else to be
I am so blessed to have had a few years of traveling,
learning golf, and enjoying our retirement. I am desolate
without my sweetheart, he doesn't know me most of the
time now, has been in a nursing home for 4 years. We
have had 56 years in our marriage, and it was filled with
love and good memories. I do so miss my best friend.
I relate very much to the problem of missing one's best
friend. I have never been one to have many close friends
at one time, and after my high school/college years I
could count about 4 people as close enough that I still
keep in contact with them. (Luckily, my family is close.)
So, this is to say that I do not connect deeply, often or
easily. So finding and connecting so well with Jeff was a
rare and special thing. I was 21 and he was 35, and it was
never an issue. He just went into that maverick, single
stage post-college, and stayed there longer than most
depth, about anything and with real enjoyment made for
a very privileged 20 years--a two decade window of
having someone to share life with that did not exist prior
to that, and which is unlikely to occur again.
and a unique, creative, and stubborn 15 year old son. As
Jeff's affliction came on slowly and subtly, they have
never had to deal with suddenly finding themselves with
only one competent parent...they've kind of grown into it.
I'm working on re-becoming that single, self-sufficient
individual I was pre-Jeff...back in the days when I related
to Simon and Garfunkel's "I am a Rock." (Though it's my
distinct recollection that that girl really, really wanted the
kind of relationship I eventually found with Jeff. But she
managed, as I will manage now.)
experienced this can understand, those less "publicly-
detectable" changes that occur in the early stages
change the nature of the relationship in fundamental
ways, but we can do stuff, he can enjoy stuff, he doesn't
need "care," per se, it's just that I'm in charge of
everything. I'm going to live with the illusion that we'll
just remain on this plateau until I'm forced to admit
We both knew on the first date that this was going to be forever. It was as if my heart always had a piece missing. When I found him, I found the piece that made my heart whole .
AD changed everything. His processing is slow; his comprehension of spoken language is poor – he is so easily confused by what is said; he is no longer able to follow the directions for hooking up electronic equipment; he forgets what was said a minute ago. I have had to pick up the slack, trying to learn to do what used to come so easily to him. I am not always successful.
What AD has not changed is his love and concern for me. Not a day goes by that he does not take me in his arms and tell me how much he loves and appreciates me – how he hurts to see me have to bear the burden of so much.
No, he is not the person he was; we do not have the same relationship we had; but through AD education and our support system, we have worked to forge a new relationship. It may be different than the one that came before it, but what is not different is that we will love each other forever. That space in my heart will always be filled by him.
©Copyright 2007 Joan Gershman
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