- Bob Shellard and wife Nancy couldn’t celebrate their 67th anniversary together.
- Nancy has Alzheimer’s disease and is currently in a nursing home that is on lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Bob stood outside the nursing home, holding in his hands a big sign to remind his wife of their love, as she stood looking out the window.
Bob Shellard and his wife Nancy celebrate their marriage of 67 years, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, the couple had to be creative.
Nancy, 88, has Alzheimer’s disease and is currently in a nursing home in Connecticut that confines residents within the building, as a precautionary measure against the virus.
Eager to see his wife on their anniversary, Bob, 90, stood outside Stafford Springs nursing home, holding in his hands a big sign to remind her of their love, as she stood looking out the window.
“I knew I couldn’t go inside, and I knew she couldn’t come to me. So I thought I would make something I could show her from the street,” Bob tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “I just did the best I could.”
The sign reads, “I’ve loved you 67 years and still do. Happy Anniversary.”
“The nurses at the window read it to her, and they were all shouting down,” Their daughter, Laura Mikolajczak, told PEOPLE. “She said, ‘I love you. I wish I could be down there with you.’”
The idea was from his daughter. Bob was a former draftsman and graphic artist, making this ideal for him. This piece took him a week to complete, but it was worth the effort.
“She seemed to be quite happy about it,” he says.
This love story began 70 years ago, Nancy worked at the pharmacy, near the stop where Bob waits for the bus to North Haven.
“That’s where I first met her,” Bob says. “One time, the bus didn’t arrive in time and she said, ‘Well, aren’t you going to walk me home?’ So, I got a little surprise there.”
In 1953, the couple started their lives together and their marriage bore two sons and two daughters.
Nancy moved into a nursing home in December, a 20-minute drive away from their house. Her husband visits her every day, as long as he could.
“[I miss] her smile. Just being together,” he says. “Of course, we can’t. I try to get there every day. It’s a completely different life for us right now, but she’s still my wife.”
Nancy struggles to remember just about everything these days. Everything except the love of her life, says Laura.
“As soon as she sees my dad, it’s like there’s this bond that she will never forget,” she says. “He’s the one memory that hasn’t left her… They very much have a love that’s just never faded over the years, and through the memory loss, and all the kids that drove them crazy.”