Donna Brewer is the type of woman who calls a spade a spade; someone who knows how to get what she wants, and that’s how she ended up spending decades with Charlie.
“(In) 1957 or ’58 I picked him up at the movie theatre downtown,” chuckles Brewer. “I think that I was his first girlfriend. Well, first that I knew about.”
Married for 61 years, the Brewers raised a son named Anthony and created a lifetime of memories while travelling and moving around the province. They’ve accomplished all that while remaining hand-in-hand by following two simple steps:
“Fight a little bit, a little bit whenever you feel the need,” laughs Brewer. “You can’t go around just smiling all of the time, even if your heart is broken and you just carry on and do the best you can and keep talking.”
The Brewers are one of just two couples who live at Pine Grove Nursing Home in Fredericton. In New Brunswick, there’s a program through Social Development aimed at keeping spouses together when transitioning to nursing homes, often in the same room.
“I think it’s a wonderful program that Social Development allows families to be together. I know there’s not a lot of beds and it’s difficult to make these things happen, but we certainly try when we can,” explains Cheryl Wiggins, the administrator at Pine Grove Nursing Home.
Having a spouse and support system behind a resident can be the most important part of a care plan.
“By the time they get to that age group they’ve been together for so many years, they depend on each other, they speak for each other, they read each other’s minds,” adds Wiggins.
The other couple living at the not for profit home are Claudia and Richard Tucker. They’ve been an item for more than six decades.
“I looked at her right in the eye and I said, ‘I’m going to marry you one day,’ and here we are,” says Richard Tucker as he smiles, reminiscing about the first time he met his wife at a restaurant in Moncton.
Claudia was admitted to the home after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Richard has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and moved in to help his wife.
“We’re married for better or worse, so I went, ‘I’m going to stay with her for the rest,’ and I intend to.”
Beds pushed together, the Tuckers display a lifetime of memories on the walls of their room. Children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and pets, the pair share a storybook romance; the kind one aspires to find.
“You have to believe in one another, trust one another, be honest, communicate, that’s what worked for us.”
And the Tuckers insist all you lovebirds never go a day without sharing a kiss.