Ken Henley and Anne Graeper found love in Heaton Place Retirement Community in Armstrong. (Contributed)

Ken Henley and Anne Graeper found love in Heaton Place Retirement Community in Armstrong. (Contributed)

Armstrong retirement community residents find love in COVID-19

Ken Henley and Anne Graerper grew closer amidst the pandemic

It doesn’t have to be Valentine’s Day for the love bug to bite.

Whether you’re 32, 72, or 92, it’s never too late to fall in love.

Just ask Ken Henley and Anne Graeper, who each began noticing one another in late January of this year.

The two had seen each other come and go over the past year and a bit, but the connection wasn’t made until recently.

“It started when I would wave to her in the dining room.It brought a smile to her face and mine,” Ken said.

When Valentine’s Day rolled around, Ken would place hearts on her placemat in the dining room and even left her a heart on her suite door.

And so the romance began.

Little by little, with caution, Anne slowly began to let the walls come down and allowed the possibility of love enter her heart.

The two connected just prior to a unique time in history. Social distancing is the message we hear strongly these days; perhaps physical distancing would be a better term. As for these two, COVID-19 bridged the gap.

One of the positives that I have witnessed over these past few months of masks, isolation, and distancing is the residents of Heaton Place Retirement Residence have grown closer to one another.

Throughout the summer, it would not be odd to see several seniors visiting in the front entrance of our building – those who in the past had no connection with one another.

As for Ken and Anne, well, they have spent days getting to know each other more personally. It wasn’t until COVID-19 came along and protective protocols were put into place at Heaton that they began to spend more time getting to know each other.

“I never thought finding a companion to enjoy life’s moments would come at 92 years of age,” Anne said.

Of the many activities that Heaton Place offers, sitting around a poker table has been one that both Ken and Anne have participated in since they moved in. We often have entertainment, slideshows, card games and more going on for our residents, so there is always something to engage in. You never have to feel alone at Heaton Place.

“Our recent connection has given us more reason to stick around,” Ken said.

When I asked the two if they were falling in love, they both looked at each other and giggled.

“We smooch a lot,” Ken said. “So, I guess you can say we are!”

Both Ken and Anne lost their spouses five years ago, and had resolved to the fact that they would live the rest of their days out single, but, the universe had a different plan for them.

Anne has her suite and two doors down, Ken has his.

“I like the fact that neither of us interferes with each other’s affairs,” Anne said.

“Rather, we spend time playing crib, going for walks and snuggling on the couch watching sports! We even got busted smooching in the hallways,” she said with a chuckle.

When I asked them if they had a message to share, they simply said: “Enjoy life the best you can and be grateful.”

It has been a pleasure to watch these two grow in friendship.

Thanks to them, I have hope for myself.

This article was contributed to the Morning Star by Heaton Place Retirement Community resident relations coordinator Carrie O’Neill.

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