Embracing Life Together: The Merrymans

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There’s a saying that encourages us to let things go and if they come back around, it’s a sign that it was meant to be. For two of our residents, Gloria and Larry Merryman, nearly 50 years apart wasn’t enough to deter the spark they felt all those years ago. Now, they’re reunited at Embrace Living Communities as they approach their one-year anniversary and living the dream we all hope for: someone to comfortably and happily age with while embracing life together.

This is their inspiring love story.

 

Mondays are known as an opportunity for a fresh start, so it’s only fitting that Larry and Gloria Merryman began a new chapter of their lives together on a Monday. On June 25, 2018 they took each other in holy matrimony on the beautiful campus grounds of Greencastle of Mulford in their hometown of Rockford, Illinois. Although they were back in the city where they first met, there was a world of time and distance that sat between them before getting to that point.

They first met back in 1969 through a mutual friend – and music. Gloria recalls the friendly way Larry would greet her as they watched their mutual friend practice in their band. “He would come in and say hi. The first time I saw him I had a major crush, but our lives were going in two different directions, so I let it go but my heart never forgot for all these years.”

Though their lives were going in different directions, music remained a constant in each of their separate paths. Larry was a repairman and painter, but worked to support his music, which was his true passion, playing in several bands in Rockford, Detroit and California. Gloria became an office manager and later became a hospice volunteer after caring for her parents, but has a musical background herself having studied piano, and sung in choirs.

Despite only having the briefest of interactions, their connection was strong. So strong, in fact, that Gloria immediately recognized his name when she saw him pop up on her Facebook feed one January day in 2017.

“I almost fell out of my chair because somebody had told me 20 years before that they thought he was dead. So I contacted him immediately to reintroduce myself,” Gloria says.

That year, the two spoke from the day they discovered each other on social media until October, when Larry came up for a visit from California where he’d been living. Gloria was thrilled he was making the trip back to Rockford, but although he was hopeful, Larry was a little anxious. Having recently spent 17 months in West Los Angeles for PTSD treatment due to his service in Vietnam, he wasn’t sure how he would be received.

“I didn’t know what to expect meeting back up with her. I was living in Southern California on the beach as a bachelor for the past 45 years, and I’d done everything you were supposed to do, and then some, but it just wasn’t fun anymore. And then when I came back here and we met up, I knew right then I was going to come back and make a play for this girl. And it worked.” The next time he came back to Rockford was for good. Nearly four months after his their in-person reunion, he moved into a two bedroom apartment with Gloria at Greencastle of Mulford. Larry says he been there ever since, “It’s one of the smartest most blessed thing I’ve ever done.”

Having only moved into Embrace Living Communities a few months before Larry, Gloria’s adjustment was also a smooth one, “I drove by here all the time, and I always admired the place for its really pretty grounds. Once I came and I took a look, I decided this is where I wanted to be, so I got on the list. It’s in my neighborhood, I feel comfortable here, I feel secure here. I can’t say enough good about it, I really, really like this place,” Gloria says.

Shortly after the move, they got married in a small ceremony with close family and friends, standing on a small bridge underneath a tree on the Mulford campus. Gloria’s beloved dog, Bella was the ring-bearer. Though they kept the wedding small and intimate, a number of other residents looked on during their nuptials out on the grass watching or looking out their windows that summer day.

Though she’d never been married before, everything felt natural to Gloria on their wedding day. “Everybody thought I’d probably be a bridezilla or basket case, but I wasn’t. I was so happy that I was marrying a guy that I knew from the very first time I met him that it was right between us. So I got up, I got dressed, and we got married. Didn’t everybody else do this on Mondays?” she jokes. Larry had been married twice before in his younger years, but this was different experience. “This time I was ready for it and I’m glad I did it.”  

Since then, they’ve been settling into married life together and embracing simple moments in each others company, like sharing meals and watching tv together. They each have their hobbies; for Gloria it’s knitting, while Larry still enjoys writing and recording his songs. And together they have music to enjoy together, the way they did 50 years ago.

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