Seventy-two years ago, a young couple named Shirley and Leonard Matties walked down the aisle and said, “I do.”
They’ve had their share of ups and downs throughout their marriage, but their love for one another has never faded. Leonard and Shirley are both in their 90s now, and Shirley is battling dementia, but one person she has never forgotten is her husband. For Ardis Behrendsen, witnessing their enduring love is the highlight of her workday.
Ardis is a Certified Nurses Aide at Grace Manor Care Center in Burlington, Colorado, where Leonard and Shirley have lived since 2007. She says that she’s worked in health care since she was a teenager, yet the day she was able to help Leonard and Shirley celebrate their 72nd anniversary was “the most amazing day I have had since working in health care.”
On October 11, Ardis helped Shirley get dressed up in a beautiful pink dress, complete with a corsage and the same sparkly wedding set she’d been wearing on her left hand since 1947. Shirley felt like a young woman again as Ardis did her hair and makeup for the big day.
“Working with the elderly has always been a huge passion to me,” Ardis wrote on Facebook. “What I got to be a part of today was the most beautiful experience, this amazing couple has been married 72 years today. Not only was I able to get this beautiful bride a dress and doll her all up, but I was also able to take pictures of their very special day and capture the love and commitment they have for each other, even after 72 years.”
Ardis shared her pictures on Facebook, where they quickly went viral. The moment Leonard spies his beautiful wife of 72 years is incredibly moving. His face lights up and it seems as if no time has passed at all.
“Leonard and Shirley are such a beautiful example of what true love is and prove that when you truly love someone, you fix what is broken and love each other through all the hard times you may face. I can’t even begin to tell you how it felt to witness so much love and emotion today, seeing the look on Leonard’s face when I brought Shirley out was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.”
Ardis says it was an honor to be a part of Leonard and Shirley’s anniversary. “It’s days like today that I feel so blessed to do what I do. Because in the end, love is the only thing that truly matters. Thank you, Leonard and Shirley, for reminding me what life is all about, you are truly an inspiration to me. I love you both.”
These two love birds have been married for almost 3/4 of a century! We agree with Ardis; seeing them together is a wonderful reminder of how love can really last for a lifetime. It just takes work, fixing what’s broken, and a whole lot of patience. Congratulations on 72 beautiful years together, Shirley and Leonard!
Watch the sweet moment when Leonard sees Shirley in her anniversary dress in the video below, and don’t forget to share.
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