There is something special about love. It even becomes more magical when you are celebrating a love that defied all odds, grew every single day, and lasted for six decades. If you are lucky to experience such kind of love, then you know what I am talking about. This old couple shows us the true meaning of love.
It all started after World War II in 1945, when a neighbor introduced James Burke to Lauretta. James served in the Eighth Army Air Corps, and he had just completed his 35th mission as a tail gunner on a B-17. James knew that he had just found the perfect partner immediately when he saw Lauretta, and wanted to marry her as soon as possible.
However, Lauretta was not ready. She needed to finish off her school at Mt. Mary College located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Eventually, she graduated from college on Tuesday, and the couple had their wedding on Saturday that same week.
This marked the journey of their marriage that would last for 64 years.
James and Lauretta settled in Akron, Ohio where they raised nine children together; four sons and five daughters. Their children got married too and had very successful marriages. One of Burke’s daughter commented that their dad had some wise words to tell all of his sons-in-law on their wedding day. He always said to them that the greatest thing that they would do is never to stop loving the mother of their children. Sure, the advice worked, since none of them has ever had a divorce.
The Burke’s family grew to 23 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren by 2012. Most people would forget holding meetings when the family got this big. However, this was not the case for James and Lauretta. They held frequent reunions for the family to come together including one of the most memorable visits to Ireland in 1996 to remind the children of their roots.
Then Lauretta began showing signs of dementia and started losing her memory.
None of this deterred her husband, who would instead just remind her of all the best moments they had including all birthdays and graduations. She was later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Shortly after, James was also diagnosed with a heart disease, and he had surgery to implant a pacemaker. However, he developed complications, which kept him in and out of the hospital for months.
James wanted to be there for his wife who was ailing but his body was giving out too, and he had to be hospitalized. Colleen Muldoon, the Burke’s grandchild, captured a photo of James saying his final goodbye to Lauretta. He later passed on while in the hospital after his last meeting with Lauretta.
“He was basically living for her,” Muldoon told Huffington Post. “They were like the same person after being together for so long, and he didn’t want to give up because she knew that he needed him there.”
But looking at that last photo she snapped, Muldoon noticed something.
That is when she decided to go through the family’s album and found the Burke’s wedding photo—which exactly resembled the shot that she took at the hospital.
The look that he gave her on their wedding day was the same one that he had minutes before saying goodbye to her. The love between them was so palpable even after living together for more than six decades. She shared the photo on social media, and it immediately went viral with millions of people all over the world acknowledging the love between the two.
Muldoon said James spent his last moments writing a will that would ensure Lauretta received the best treatment. He passed away on November 13, 2012, at the age of 87. Lauretta now lives in a care facility where she gets maximum care and love from family as she continues to battle dementia.
Such touching stories as these grandparents’ love serve as an inspiration to millions of couples and newlyweds all over the world. It may appear difficult to love unconditionally at first, but all you have to do is breathe in and allow yourself to do it. I am sure you will get more love in return.