08
Jun
18
What’s meant to be will always find its way
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Gerald and Jean Walker were meant to be together.

Sitting close as the rain falls gently outside the window behind them on a late spring afternoon in 2018, the two finish each other’s sentences and laugh at each other’s jokes.

It is familiar routine for the two 92-year-olds after almost 72 years of marriage.

“We were born on the same day in Montreal,” says Jean affectionately about their shared birthday of June 15. “We met in elementary school around 10 years old.”

Petite with luminescent eyes, Jean talks about the past with a small grin that grows wider when her husband playfully threatens to swat her with his cane if she tells the truth. Jean agrees to his terms and resumes her story, her way.

“He was handsome. It was puppy love, all of that sort of stuff,” she says about her first impression of her future husband.

Trying to look uninterested, Gerald leans in closer to hear her comments.

“She was a beauty, a queen,” he says in return.

A few years later, the two were officially introduced at a hockey game after Jean raised a ruckus behind Gerald’s net where he was standing goal. She was at the game to watch her brother play.


 

“He was the goalie on the opposite team I was cheering for,” she says about Gerald. “I found a broken hockey stick and proceeded to bang it against the boards to distract him. I drove him stark raving nuts.”

Jean’s official introduction to Gerald came after the game when he followed her home and rubbed snow in her face for all of the trouble she caused him at the game.

“You’re lucky it wasn’t pie or cake,” says Gerald sternly.

Several years later, Jean went to a function at a local service club to serve soldiers bound for war.

Approaching with caution, Gerald found Jean and asked her to dance. The pair were inseparable the rest of the evening.

“We didn’t make any promises to each other when he left, other than to agree to write,” says Jean.

Suffering from serious injuries sustained in battle, Gerald was one of the lucky few to return home alive in1943. He and Jean were married a few years later. Their union produced two sons, three grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

“Would you do it over again,” Gerald whispers softly to his wife.

“Every minute,” she replies lovingly.

Clearly pleased with her response, Gerald looks at his wife with adoration as she moves closer to him on his hospital bed.

The elderly man chokes back a sob as he admits, “I have been more than lucky. I have two smart boys and a loving wife. What else can I wish for? It’s just too bad we had to separate. It’s the first time in 72 years we’ve been apart for any length of time.”

A resident of Carveth Care Centre for the past five months, Gerald has clearly missed his wife as he tries to recover function in his legs. A wheelchair sits beside his hospital bed as a stark reminder of the work ahead of him. Adorning the walls are pictures of him standing tall and strong in uniform while receiving commemorative medals from the French Government and United Kingdom for his service in WWII.

Diagnosed with macular degeneration, Jean moved to the same long-term care home just over a month ago. She lives in a separate room a short distance away and has asked to be reunited with her husband.

“We’re all working on getting Gerald to walk,” she explains.

Asked her opinion of long-term care, Jean says with honesty, “If this happens to be the way life ends, one couldn’t ask for any better.”

“We talked about it and we had planned for this point in our lives,” Jean continues. “However, we didn’t count on the fact that Gerald was going to suffer through dizziness, imbalance and get hurt. We didn’t think he’d end up this way.”

“If someone ever asked me five years ago if I’d end up here as a bed patient, I’d say they were crazy,” says Gerald who starts to sing ‘everything is gone now except my soul and this body’.

“No one said anything about singing,” Jean chastises her husband to his delight.

The two smile like they are sharing a private joke.

“He has a bit of an imagination as you can tell,” says Jean who is nonplussed by her husband’s antics.

Asked about the secret of their long and happy marriage which turns 72 this fall, Jean replies, “I think the answer to that is to take one day at a time and make the best of every situation that comes up. Do what you can. That’s about all.”

Carveth Care Centre is proud of the vibrant love between Gerald and Jean Walker who celebrate 72 years of marriage on Oct. 26, 2018. To learn more about living or working here, please call 613-382-4752.

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