As you get older, life gets a little more boring and days move a little slower. By the time retirement age comes around, the cheap thrills associated with youth have died down and most people are ready to relax into the life they have become accustomed to. Of course, this isn’t the truth for everyone.
When John Cook of Sylvania, Ohio, moved into an assisted living facility, he thought he had accomplished everything he wanted in life. Little did he know, there was another adventure awaiting him, and one decision would change his life forever.
The Kingston Residence in Ohio is a picturesque assisted living and long-term care facility. In 2019, the place made headlines for the strangest reason, thanks to a surprising move from John Cook.
John Cook was a World War ll veteran living at Kingston. At 100 years old, the assisted living facility allowed him to have the independence of his own apartment, while still getting the help he needed for daily activities.
There were some negative connotations with moving into a so-called old folks home, but Cook didn’t mind. The facility provided a community and many opportunities for social interaction. This was something that Cook especially enjoyed.
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As a widower, he was prone to loneliness. The experience of spending your entire life with one person by your side, and then suddenly being alone in old age is common, but certainly not enviable. Luckily for Cook, something amazing was about to happen.
When John Cook met Phyllis, another resident at Kingston, they hit it off immediately. The pair had a lot in common. Phyllis had just turned 102-years-old and was a widow herself. John and Phyllis began spending time together in the common room.
Soon, it became an everyday thing. Despite their age, the two of them developed romantic feelings for each other. “Well, we were just compatible in a whole lot of ways, found ourselves enjoying each other’s company,” John told NBC 24.
Though you wouldn’t expect it, the facility became the setting for many of their most romantic dates, allowing them to ride their scooters down the halls and enjoy meals outside in the fresh air. After dating for about a year, Phyllis made a proposition.
“To tell you the truth, we fell in love with each other,” said Phyllis. “I know you think that may be a little bit far-fetched for somebody our age, but we fell in love with each other.” As a devout Christian woman, she was ready to take their relationship to the next level.
Phyllis and John decided to get married. At 100 and 102, they went to the courthouse to pick up a marriage license and officially become John and Phyllis Cook. However, the day went very different than they planned.
The courthouse administrator offered to marry the lovebirds on the spot. “It wasn’t the plan, but we got here, and they said we could marry you here,” John explained. “I said, ‘Good, let’s get it over with.” After a century of life, they became newlyweds.
While many people assume only young people want to go through the trouble of getting married, research shows that’s simply not the case. A study conducted by the Institute for Family Studies show a rise in the number of seniors looking to get hitched.
The number of newlyweds over the age of 65 has been increasing consistently since the 1960s, while the number of people aged 18 to 64 who are willing to say “I do” is actually going down. The percentage of young people who are married reached a record low in 2016.
The study notes that the increase is partially due to a longer lifespan than people experienced 50 years ago. Another statistic plays into older relationships as well, and that’s the age imbalance of men versus women.
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For individuals 75 and older, there are more single women than single men. The idea of marrying after the age of 100 is strange at first, but in a way it makes a lot of sense. With so much wisdom, petty arguments are a thing of the past.
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And it was wisdom that lead Phyllis and John to one major rule that keeps them happy in their marriage: They maintain their independence, each keeping their own apartment in the Kingston facility. They spend their days together, but go home to their own space.
“What we do, we keep both of our apartments,” Phyllis told NBC 24. “He’s upstairs and I’m down.” It sounds like they have the best of both worlds, though they certainly enjoy the company of each other and keep the spark alive.
The romance is very much alive, and the signs are everywhere. When he was asked what his favorite thing to do with Phyllis was, John blushed. “Well, I probably shouldn’t talk about that,” he said.”
Being married for 50 or 60 years is a gift that most people don’t get to experience. Being married for 70 years, meanwhile, is basically unheard of. One couple hit that milestone, which came with an incredible — and tragic — story.
Just before World War II broke out, a man and a woman met in Philadelphia. The evening between Isabell Whitney and Preble Staver went well, but the timing was terrible. The world was about to change forever.
The first half of the 1940s was marred by the war. Remembered as one of the most painful times in history, the devastation and fighting left many countries and families in shambles. This had a profound effect on Isabell and Preble.
Both felt a strong call to action when American forces needed help overseas. Although they didn’t want to abandon their new romance, they knew what they had to do. Isabell joined the Navy with her nursing skills, and Preble became a marine.
The pair remained entirely apart for the next few years, but they never forgot each other. In fact, each constantly thought of the other. Once the war ended in 1945, the couple would finally get the chance to be reunited.
Upon their reunion, the couple immediately picked up where they had left off so many years before. So it came as no surprise when they took their relationship to the next level shortly after.
In 1946, the couple got married. They were the absolute perfect couple, both American heroes looking forward to settling down and returning to normalcy. However, soon they would have one of their biggest adventures yet.
Isabell and Preble had five children, and each learned about love from their incredible example. One of their daughters, Laurie Staver-Clinton, said they made a perfect match because of her father’s “larger than life” personality and her mother’s “tender heart.”
In fact, Laurie cited her mother as her “heart” because she taught her about kindness and compassion. They called their father a “prickly pear,” as he was always the disciplinarian. “Mom tried to be strict, but we knew what we could get away with her,” she said.
Meanwhile, after his military career, Preble worked as a banker and lobbyist. Isabell was a dedicated stay-at-home mom to her five wonderful children, though she eventually returned to nursing. They had the perfect life…for awhile.
As it so often goes, a bad thing happened to good people. As a couple who had survived the horrific events of World War II, Preble and Isabell thought they had seen the worst of it. But then unspeakable tragedy knocked on their door.
In 1975, due to an injury sustained on the football field, one of the Staver’s sons passed away. Far and beyond the war, this was the hardest battle they would fight. How could they go on?
In the aftermath, they remained steadfast in their love for one another and supported each other through the darkest of times. Laurie says this event brought out another part of her father. “We began to see a softer side,” she said.
The couple slowly began to move on, the tragedy bringing them even closer, “Parents aren’t supposed to bury their kids,” Laurie said, “but it also brought them together.” It wouldn’t be the last tragedy in the family.
In 2013, the couple settled into a quiet life in Virginia. They enjoyed the time they spent together and felt proud of the life they created. Everything was wonderful again, until Preble started noticing changes in Isabell.
It became obvious that his beloved wife was showing early signs of dementia. Preble knew it was the right thing for them to move into a facility that could provide the type of care that Isabell required with her sickness.
After more than fifty years by each other’s sides building a family, they were apart. Isabell’s dementia meant she was placed in a different wing. Isabell would forget a lot, but she would never forget Preble.
When Preble and Isabell were together, Laurie could see the undying connection. “The first thing they’d hold each other’s hand and tell each other they loved each other.” Their connection would prove to be everlasting.
Even in the end, when her dementia was at its worst, Isabell gave Preble knowing smiles. A lifetime of memories left her, but Preble was one thing that never faded in her mind. She asked for him constantly.
On Preble’s 96th birthday, he wanted to lay beside his lifelong partner and take a nap with her. Of course, his wish was granted, and the pair lay content in bed for the afternoon. Amazingly, Isabell even sang him happy birthday.
Just a day later, Isabel was fading for the last time. Preble went to her room to say goodbye. He held her hand when she passed on and quietly mourned the loss of the great love of his life. Then, something unbelievable happened.
Only fourteen hours after her death, Preble joined his wife on the other side. The family’s pastor believes “he was waiting for her.” Now the couple lay buried next to each other, never to be separated again.