Every love story has its own unique beginning. For the Mareks, it all started on a New Year’s Eve in 1952, a day Ruth Marek, 90, likes to remember because her friends set her up on a blind date. It was the day she met her husband Joseph, 94. They fell in love and were married a year later. Ruth and Joseph Marek, now residents of Waltonwood Cotswold, moved to Charlotte from Bloomington, Ill., to be closer to their son after Joe was diagnosed with dementia about a year ago. Despite all the difficulties and changes that come with this condition, Ruth talks about her husband in such a sweet tone it can make anyone’s heart melt. Today, she is opening up about the struggles they have confronted because of dementia, and she shares the inspiring love story behind their long and successful marriage.
“I noticed the forgetfulness about a year ago, and the hardest part is knowing that it won’t get any better,” said Ruth Marek. “At first, I thought maybe I would be able to take care of him on my own, but it became more difficult as each day passed. It is hard not waking up next to him every morning, but I go see him and have lunch with him every day. We still live together, I’m in assisted living and he’s in memory care just a few steps away. He remembers much from the past, maybe even better than I do. It is the short-term memory that gives him trouble, but that comes along with dementia. It is comforting to know that he is getting the best care possible. Sometimes we just have to except things the way they are and be happy.”
Joe, originally from Wisconsin, worked as a civil engineer with the Illinois Department of Transportation for 37 years. He loves poetry and likes to recite his favorite poems to his family. Ruth believes one of the keys to a successful marriage is to have similar interests, like a love for country music, not the country-pop kind. Throughout their 64 years of marriage they experienced a lot, including the loss of their daughter Erin and their 23-year-old grandson, but they have been blessed to have one granddaughter and two great-granddaughters. Everything the couple has done, they have done as a team, including battling this debilitating condition. Ruth says one of the most important things in marriage is communication. She believes it is essential to handle difficult conversations and address issues as they arise instead of holding them in. Ruth is grateful for the loving relationship she has with her husband.
“When deciding to get married, make sure your partner is somebody you get along with well and somebody you can trust,” said Ruth Marek. “It is also important to realize that we can’t expect everything to run smoothly right away. Marriage is a long process that requires team work. Be there for each other and never forget to show your appreciation for your partner.”
“Ruth and Joe have such a beautiful relationship together, it is heartwarming to watch them spend time with one another in our community,” said Leah Nash, executive director of Waltonwood Cotswold. “Their love story is truly inspiring, and we are thankful they decided to move here together. We look forward to providing the best care possible and the needed support to their entire family.”
Singh currently owns and operates 10 other Waltonwood Senior Communities in Michigan and North Carolina and has several other communities in development and under construction in North Carolina and the Washington, D.C. metro area market.