Every week, Deborah Shouse interviews couples and writes their love story for the Kansas City Star. Every story is different and talking to people who are in love is always inspiring; often couples have to overcome enormous obstacles to bring their relationship into reality. Recently she talked with two friends whose love and cosmic connection shone out from their faces and rang out with their words. Below Deborah shares this small part of their story.
An Insider’s Look at True Love:
Charlie and Elizabeth’s Story
The coffee date was going better than Charlie, age 60, could have ever imagined. Just a month earlier, his best friend had burst into Charlie’s dark apartment and roused Charlie from his lethargy, saying, “You need to open up these windows and let some light in. You should start dating.”
“Who would go out with a guy who has Early Onset Alzheimer’s?” Charlie asked his friend.
“Maybe you should find out,” his friend replied.
So Charlie Miller pried himself out of his depression and joined eHarmony. And this coffee date with Elizabeth Hack was the result.
Elizabeth, age 55, was brilliant, interesting, energetic, curious, and shared many of Charlie’s interests. When she asked Charlie what he liked to do, he mentioned listening to music, attending theater, visiting with friends and volunteering for the Alzheimer’s Association.
Elizabeth knew nothing about Alzheimer’s. She asked, “Does someone close to you have the disease?”
“Yes,” Charlie answered. He wanted to say more but the words stuck in his throat. He had never envisioned this casual meeting could possibly turn into a romance. Yet he was already comfortable with Elizabeth and felt their relationship was meant to be.
Over the weeks, they continued seeing each other, meeting at concerts, going to plays, and exploring new restaurants. As their friendship deepened. Charlie knew he had to share his diagnosis with Elizabeth and he worried she wouldn’t be able to accept it.
But before he had a chance to broach the subject, Elizabeth, wanting to learn more about Alzheimer’s and about Charlie’s interests, visited the local Alzheimer’s Association website and noticed a picture of Charlie, as a volunteer and a person who has Alzheimer’s. She was shocked, dismayed, and confused. But she was also in love with Charlie; his diagnosis did not diminish her deep feelings for him.
Charlie suggested she meet with his social worker at the Association to learn more about the disease. Elizabeth did that and though the information was daunting, her connection with Charlie was strong and true; she, too, felt they were destined to be together.
They began traveling and made plans to move in together. In a vineyard restaurant in Napa Valley, Charlie proposed and Elizabeth said Yes. Today, they are living happily, grateful they have found each other
“None of us know what will happen next,” Elizabeth says. “Just the other night, we were at a dinner party. One friend was just released from the hospital after heart surgery, and another friend was facing a hip replacement. I felt concerned for my friends and I felt so lucky that Charlie and I were happy and together. We are dedicated to living with joy and curiosity in the present moment.”
Deborah Shouse is a writer, speaker, editor and creativity catalyst.
She is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey (Central Recovery Press Nov 2013.) Deborah focuses on finding the gifts, blessings and connections in the care partner’s journey through Alzheimer’s. Originally, Deborah self-published and used the book as a catalyst to raise more than $80,000 for Alzheimer’s programs and research. She will continue donate a portion of her proceeds to Alzheimer’s.
Deborah and her partner Ron Zoglin have performed her writings for audiences in the United States, New Zealand, Nova Scotia, Puerto Rico, England, Ireland, Chile, Costa Rica, Italy, Turkey and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
To learn more about Deborah’s work, visit her blog DeborahShouseWrites
Or follow her on Twitter: DeborahShouse@Twitter
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