Man lights up seeing wife of 72 years dressed up for their anniversary photoshoot

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(CBS NEWS) – A senior living facility in Burlington, Colorado got to celebrate decades of true love last week, when two residents marked their 72nd wedding anniversary.

91-year-old lovebirds Leonard and Shirley Matties have been holding hands for more than seven decades, and they’re still doing it today. When one employee at Grace Manor Care Center heard their wedding anniversary was coming up, she chipped in to make the day extra special for them with a sweet photoshoot.

Shirley and Leonard’s family was already planning an anniversary party for them, but a nurse at their senior living facility wanted to do something extra special. ARDIS BEHRENDSEN

“I have been working in long term healthcare since I was 16. Working with the elderly has always been a huge passion to me,” Ardis Behrendsen, a Certified Nurses Aide, wrote on Facebook, sharing photos of the couple. “What I got to be a part of today was the most beautiful experience.”

“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,” Behrendsen’s post continued.

One of the couple’s seven children, Carolyn Martell, told CBS News the family was already planning an anniversary party, but Behrendsen really wanted to make it “above and beyond.” She thought to get a pink gown for Shirley for the special occasion.

When a staff member rolled Shirley out in her wheelchair, Leonard’s face absolutely lit up. Behrendsen shared video of the husband’s heartwarming reaction to seeing his bride.

Martell told CBS News her mom has dementia, which has been difficult for Leonard to understand. But that day, Shirley had no problem recognizing the love of her life. 

Behrendsen’s post about the couple captured countless hearts. “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,” she wrote. “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.”

(With permission from my resident’s family, I get to share some pictures about the most amazing day I have had since…

Posted by Ardis Behrendsen on Friday, October 11, 2019

Behrendsen said she feels blessed to work in health care because of days like these. “Thank you Leonard and Shirley for reminding me what life is all about, you are truly an inspiration to me. I love you both,” her post ended.

The couple posed with an old photograph of themselves and the pictures quickly went viral online.

When asked about their secret to a long life and love, Leonard said it was simply “work.” Shirley said they just kept on going. “Just keep on trucking. That’s pretty special,” their daughter said.

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