When Donna Weimer couldn’t be with her husband to celebrate their 28th wedding anniversary on March 21, she knew she had to get creative. So, she put on a white wedding veil, made a sign out of poster board and wrote: “Yes, I would marry you again.”
She held it up proudly outside the window of Charles “Chuck” Weimer’s room in the rehabilitation center, where her 83-year-old husband was recovering from broken bones he suffered in a fall.
“I know it’s silly,” Donna said. “But the look on his face, it was just like when he looked at me when I walked down the aisle.”
When Chuck was admitted to the rehab center in October, Donna was there every day taking care of him. Then coronavirus hit, and Donna no longer was allowed to visit.
So, she’d tap on his window to get his attention and blow him kisses. One day she held up a sign that said: “I love you.” On another day, she taped a green poster board on his window that said: “Proud to be your wife.”
“He was so pleased,” Donna said. Chuck’s nurse would move his bed closer to the window, so he could see his bride. She sometimes raised the window a couple of inches, so they could talk.
Chuck is back at home with Donna at his side taking care of him, as she’s done for the last several years. CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions provides some of the necessary medical supplies, and the couple get Meals & More’s fresh frozen meals delivered every two weeks, so Donna can focus on caregiving.
From friendship to falling in love
Theirs is a love story that began more than 30 years ago. Chuck was an administrator of environmental services at the former University Heights Hospital (now Community East). He also was Donna’s boss. The two developed a friendship, nothing more. In addition to their work, they had a lot in common. Both were divorced and single parents. Some five years later, Donna moved to medical records within the hospital, and that’s when Chuck asked her out for dinner at Steak and Ale. She thought he wanted advice about raising his sons.
He proposed marriage.
“Why would you want to mess up a good friendship?’” Donna asked him.
“I realized I was in love with you,” she recalled him saying.
Sure, she loved him, too, but only as a good friend. He kept asking, and she kept saying no.
“He’s such a gentleman,” she said. “He’d stand up, when I got up from the table. He’d open the door for me.”
One night – sometime around 1987 – Chuck stopped by Donna’s house as he’d done many times before. On this night, though, he asked her if he could give her a hug. She agreed.
“Then he kissed the top of my forehead, and it made my knees buckle,” she said.
In sickness and in health
After Chuck left, she drove to the hospital to do some work. There, her head started hurting and she passed out, waking up after an 18-hour emergency surgery to repair a double aneurysm. Chuck was there with her family – her daughters, all seven brothers and sisters plus their spouses, her nieces and nephews.
“That poor man met all my relatives at one time,” Donna jokes.
He stuck by her, nursing her back to health when she returned home. Four years later they were married. Donna wore purple satin–the color of the sky the night Chuck told Donna that he loved her. Her bridesmaids wore white lace.
“We’ve been together ever since,” she said.
They’ve been through a lot together. Chuck was diagnosed with kidney cancer three months after they were married. While he beat cancer, he lost a kidney, and now his remaining kidney is failing. His doctors aren’t sure what’s keeping him alive, except for the love of his wife.