When I walk the halls of Buffalo Hill Terrace, I frequently encounter one particular couple strolling along hand-in-hand. They’re at ease in each other’s company, and they are almost always together. I haven’t gotten to know these particular residents personally, but their love for each other is apparent. Though I don’t know their love story, it’s clear that they have one and that it’s ongoing.
There are a lot of lifelong love stories in our community. One of my favorites was told to me by a resident who has since passed away. When his wife of many years passed away over a year before he did, he began carrying their wedding photo with him. Any time he had the opportunity, he would show it and tell the story of how they met. When both of them were in college, they attended a dance. She went with his best friend and he went with her sorority sister. By the end of the night, this resident told me, “We had each other but we didn’t have those friends any more.” They’d been together ever since.
Immanuel is full of love stories like this. High school sweethearts Fred and Shelby Thompson supported each other in decades-long careers and now travel the world together, using their apartment in The Villas at Buffalo Hill as their base. In every story Fred and Shelby tell about their lives (and they tell a lot of wonderful stories!), they are together, and their joy and ease in each other’s company is apparent even from casual interactions.
And then there are relationships that are no less strong for being shorter in duration. David and Martha Maurer knew each other and dated a bit in high school, but they didn’t marry until five years ago. In the mean time, they both married and had families with other people. When they reconnected, it quickly became apparent that they wanted to spend the next phase of their lives together (with their dog Toby, of course). When they moved to Kalispell, they came together, and they moved together to Buffalo Hill Terrace.
Though couples of course prefer to share a home for as long as possible, there are times when one member of a couple’s health needs change more rapidly than the other’s. One of the great things about a community like Immanuel is that the spouse who needs more care can move to an appropriate level of living while the other remains in an independent or assisted living apartment. I know several spouses who make their way each day from Buffalo Hill Terrace to the Lodge at Buffalo Hill or the Immanuel Skilled Care Center to spend time with their husband or wife. The person’s physical or cognitive condition has changed, but the love is still there.
Many couples hope to have the kind of lasting love we see every day here at Immanuel. Valentine’s Day is a wonderful time to reflect on these kinds of relationships and to think more about how we create communities where they thrive. I hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day celebrating with your loved ones—and that you celebrate many more!