The power of a single red rose
by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Marketing Manager
These days, when you hear about someone getting married at 18, you immediately start to calculate the odds. You ask, “What’s your bet that they’ll make it longer than a few years?” Let’s be honest, it’s pretty rare. I mean, you’re technically still a child at 18, right? I know a lot of 18-year olds who can’t make decisions about dinner plans, much less a life partner.
But then you hear about a couple like Henrietta and Ian Hart. They got married 45 years ago when Henrietta was just 18. And it’s gone so well, they decided to do it again.
Here’s why. Henrietta Hart has been living with cancer under hospice care since October. She was doing well until a little before Thanksgiving; at that point, the decline seemed to speed up a little. So Ian decided to make a grand gesture, a declaration of his abiding and true love for her. He re-proposed.
You’ll need a little back story to help you understand the significance of his proposal. (But this is also the best part of their love story, so of course I was going to share it anyway.)
Over 45 years ago, when Henrietta met Ian, she was dating someone else. As Ian got to know her, he was understandably smitten and he began to woo Henrietta in earnest. One day, during the course of his wooing, Ian gave Henrietta a single red rose. Well, the boyfriend was not pleased, to say the least. He was not going to let some newcomer barge in and steal his girlfriend. So he went out and bought a dozen red roses to dramatically present to his beloved. A nice gesture, yes, but ultimately ineffective. Not too long after that, Henrietta and Ian eloped by getting married at the courthouse. A single Polaroid is all they have to commemorate that romantic day.
Back to present day. A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, Henrietta was returning to her room from the bathroom when she came upon a completely unexpected scene. A single red rose (of course) sat in a vase next to her bed and Ian was standing there, decked out in a suit. He sweetly asked her to marry him again. Henrietta, of course, said yes. They began making plans to have the ceremony at their home on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, which just happened to be the 45th anniversary of their first “walk down the aisle”.
The big day came. With their son and grandsons in attendance along with Henrietta’s sister and niece (who made a surprise visit), and a few other close friends to round off the guest list, the ceremony began. Henrietta and Ian, both elegantly dressed, read personally written vows to each other as a Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region chaplain officiated. Their words were touchingly beautiful and sincere. Ian, in fact, was overcome with tears as he read his vows to his bride, “When we were married, no one thought we’d make it. We became one and made a beautiful life together. We had a family. Now we celebrate, renewing the vows we said 45 years ago today. I love you so much and I thank you for everything our lives have been.”
I wish I could have been there for this amazing ceremony, but I was at least fortunate enough to see a small part that was filmed. You won’t be surprised to know that it was hard to hear the couple’s words over the sniffling of the wedding guests who were completely awash in the profound and poignant emotions of the moment.
Because this is true love, folks.
We don’t know how much time Henrietta and Ian have left with each other. But, from what I understand, a new medication that the hospice nurse suggested is greatly helping with Henrietta’s pain, giving her back a bit of an appetite, and infusing her with some much-needed energy. Right now, she’s simply looking forward to spending the holidays with her loving husband and the rest of her family.
As Ian said, no one thought they would make it. But they did; they beat the odds. Their long and great love story is living proof that wedding vows can indeed be upheld, that love does remain “through sickness and in health”. And even though illness will take eventually take Henrietta away from Ian, his love for her will ultimately win the battle. As Henrietta’s ex-boyfriend learned so long ago, single red rose will beat a dozen every time.
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