Being a journalist, I am always searching for the good stories. Sometimes it takes weeks to come up with an interesting topic to research and write about. Then there are stories such as this one that just fall in your lap when you least expect it.
For the past five years, I have been visiting my grandmother at Riverview Healthcare Community here in Coventry. Over that time I have met a lot of interesting and colorful people that became a dear part of my life. This year I was not really looking to write a Valentine’s Day article but, when a great story presents itself, it has to be told.
It was a Saturday afternoon and I was bringing my grandma’s lunch and she mentioned to me that the couple at the next table; Gene and Alice McElroy table just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. I waited until lunch was finished to approach the couple who were sitting at a corner table, enjoying each other’s company and having a conversation between themselves. I told them I was a local reporter and I would like to write a story about them for Valentine’s Day. After the bewilderment wore off, they agreed.
As we proceeded to Mr. McElroy’s room he explained that his wife lives right on the other side of the nurse’s station, and visits regularly. When we entered the small but cozy room, it was like stepping back in time. Pictures covered the walls and the fridge, each one brings back a memory or two for the McElroys. Although this couple is well into their eighties, and their memories are not what they used to be, every time they take a moment to look at a picture in detail, it transports them back to that time.
“We met long ago when we both worked for New England Tel & Tel in West Warwick. I had just been transferred from the East providence office to West Warwick,” Gene said. “This is where Alice caught my eye for the first time. A few weeks later we went out on a first date.”
Unlike today, this couple took their time, and courted for three years before Gene got down on both knees at St. John’s Church in West Warwick and proposed to the young Alice. She said yes immediately and they never looked back. Over the years Gene and Alice have had two children and eight grandchildren.
When asked if they ever had any hard times they both quickly replied, “Not really."
The happy couple said that they always just took one day at a time and looked out for each other.
“Marriage is about give and take. If both partners care enough they can overcome anything,” Alice said. “Gene and I always respected one another, even to this very day we are like best friends.”
Due to Alice’s decline in health four years ago, it was necessary for her to become a resident at Riverview, so she could receive the care she needed. Gene, being a loyal and loving husband, visited her daily. Then about one year ago, Gene decided to join his wife at Riverview.
The McElroys exemplify the true power of love. Love can make the darkest night bright, and the worst day, seem like a dream. Most people can only wish to have such a storybook romance, the McElroys were lucky enough to live it. So on this Valentine’s Day, weather you’re single or in a relationship, let their story give you hope for your own happiness, and inspire you to keep searching for the love of your life, because you never know when that special someone will pop up where you least expect!