An elderly Maple Ridge couple who have been forced to live apart for almost two years were reunited on Friday morning.
“That was so beautiful. They were just beaming,” said Peter Herman, who volunteers at their care home, and has helped to advocate for the couple, both in their 80s.
“It was really hard for them to be separated for that long,” he added.
Joe and Lorraine Papp have been married for 62 years, and were living together at Royal Crescent Gardens assisted living facility in Maple Ridge.
When Joe’s health took a turn for the worse, he was moved to the nearby Holyrood Manor long-term care home.
Lorraine’s housing arrangements were still at Royal Crescent, but she would make the journey every day, to spend a couple of hours with Joe, depending on the HandyDart schedule.
“Miserable,” is how Lorraine describes their time apart. “I came here every day, and I was so played out that I could hardly move.”
Joe said it was a lonely time without his wife. He would play bingo to pass the time, “which is something he hated at one time,” laughed Lorraine.
When Lorraine came back for good on Friday morning, Joe said “It was like heaven.”
“I’ve only been here one day – this my first day. Ask me in a week or two,” joked his wife.
“No, it’s great,” she added.
Lorraine lost some mobility and she needed a wheelchair, and a higher level of care. That helped them get reunited, and their situation was helped by media attention about the senior couple forced to live apart, she said.
“That’s what marriage is about – you want to be together,” said Herman.
The couple’s relationship leaves an impression on others, he added.
“They’re really close – they’re Romeo and Juliette as far as I’m concerned.”
Fraser Health issued a statement about the Papp’s new living arrangements.
“We are very happy that we were able to work with this couple to reunite them in a facility that will allow them to be together, while accommodating both of their care needs,” said spokesperson Jacqueline Blackwell.
“Living apart from someone you have spent your life with is extremely difficult, which is why reuniting couples in long-term care is a priority for us and we work as quickly as possible to do so. Since senior couples may need different levels of care at different times, we work with them to find a facility that can meet their different care needs.”