20 years ago today, the local paper in Midland, MI (where I had gone to high school and stayed for a few years after) ran an excellent article about my grandparent’s story. They literally “Lived on Love Street”. Here is what they published on February 13, 2002.
He walks through the entrance to the living center and makes his way to the second room on the left. Lois, his wife of 65 years, is waiting there for him.
She still recognizes him, although she suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.
For him, she can manage a smile. He smiles back as he says, “Hi, Doll!” then gently gives her a kiss. The Kaisers seem to have a connection that triumphs over the trials of aging and time. As Victor tells everyone, they’re “living on love.”
And he means that literally and metaphorically.
The Kaisers carry such great love for one another that it seems almost fated, and well suited, that they found themselves retired to a simple life living on Love Street in Midland.
The Kaisers’ small and well-kept house on Love Street is where the couple chose to grow old. It was where they lived when their children got married and their grandchildren were born. It was where the couple spent quiet evenings together. It was where Lois sewed and Victor ate the meals that she prepared every evening.
Now, Victor’s meals come from neighborhood friends and the Meals on Wheels program.
Four years ago, Alzheimer’s disease and a stroke debilitated Lois’s health, and Victor could no longer take care of her.
So, Lois moved a couple of miles down the road to Brittany Manor, where she could receive constant care.
“Its hard,” Victor said about living alone. “You live with someone for 65 years…” He didn’t finish his sentence and his eyes became cloudy as he continued. “She was a great lady.”
“I miss her good cooking,” he said. “Also, I miss her good humor around the house.”
When a chance meeting in Colorado united the Kaisers in marriage, Victor immediately knew she was the one.
“If I had to do it over, that’s the one I would take,” Victor said. “There are a lot of women in the world, but Lois is the one for me.”
The Kaisers’ love story is simple.
They fell in love, and reared three children in Dearborn, while Victor was employed at the Ford Rouge plant for 38 years.
When asked what the secret is to a long and happy marriage, Victor said, “You’ve got to give in. We had to give in to one another. Don’t fight one another so hard.”
Victor has beaten cancer, and now suffers from kidney failure and must undergo dialysis three times a week. He used to visit Lois five days a week, however, his health problems now limit his visits to two or three times a week.
It is clear that Lois enjoys Victor’s visits, even though she can’t express her joy with words.
“After awhile, you learn how to communicate,” Victor said of their inhibited conversation.
The couple has learned to speak to each other without much dialogue. Lois and Victor often hold hands and sit in silence, but it is clear that within their silence, so much is being said. Victor can tell when Lois is happy. He can tell when she’s sad. She can recall past events. It is the more recent events of their lives that are harder for Lois to remember.
“It’s a terrible thing, that Alzheimer’s,” Victor said. “I sure wish they’d make a cure for that.”
Despite their poor health, the Kaisers’ hearts remain strong. Their love for one another continues to grow.
Victor wishes that all couples could have the same amount of happiness and love that he has experienced with Lois.
He offers this advice: “Just hang in there. Keep going. Love is the main thing.”