Due to the coronavirus outbreak, this married couple had no choice but to spend their 67th wedding anniversary apart. But this Connecticut man didn’t let this hindrance stop him from surprising his wife on their special day.
After being diagnosed with dementia, Bob Shellard’s wife, Nancy, had to be transferred to a nursing home in Stafford Springs, Connecticut, in December. Almost every day, Bob asks a caretaker or a family friend to take him to visit Nancy.
“I just miss her now that she’s in the nursing home,” Bob said.
On March 14, Bob, 90, was supposed to visit Nancy, 88, in the facility to celebrate their 67th wedding anniversary. However, on March 9, the nursing home announced that it would stop accepting visitors due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Shellards’ youngest daughter, Laura Mikolajczak, called her dad to tell him the news.
“He asked me, ‘How am I going to get in there?'” Laura recalled. “I told him he couldn’t get in, but maybe they could wheel her up to the window, and we could stand with balloons outside so she can see us.”
Having worked in the graphic arts industry before, Bob decided to use his creative skills to make a sign for Nancy that she could read through the window. He bought supplies and worked on the placard for days on his kitchen table, making sure that it turns out beautifully.
Bob cut a heart out of red felt and lined the edges with glitter. Then, with beautiful lettering, he wrote the words, “I’ve loved you 67 years and I still do. Happy Anniversary.”
On March 14, Laura drove her dad to the nursing home, where the staff was expecting their arrival. Once they were all set up with the sign, they wheeled Nancy to her window so she can have a good view of her husband’s romantic gesture.
“I just wanted her to know for sure that I hadn’t forgotten,” Bob said. “This year, she may have forgotten our anniversary, but I’d hoped it would remind her.”
Nancy got a big smile on her face as soon as she saw Bob holding up the sign. She responded by waving and blowing him kisses from her second-story window. Seeing how happy he made his wife, Bob knew that all his efforts were worth it. Laura then called the nursing home staff so the couple could exchange “I love yous” over the phone.
“That was a treat,” Bob said. “That’s something we can’t do every day.”
In her parents’ 67 years of marriage, Laura says that she and her three siblings learned a lot from their relationship.
“It’s just been an example for us, for all of us of kids. So all four of us have really learned a lot from them, and I can only hope that I have half as much as what they have shared over the years,” Laura said.
“They have always been an inspiration to us, and I think just seeing every year go by that they still express it in some way on their anniversary,” she added.
As for Bob, Nancy is and always will be the love of his life.
“I wouldn’t want anybody else,” he said. “I don’t think she could put up with anybody else besides me.”