Never too old for love

Published 11:39 pm Wednesday, April 1, 2009

On March 28, Christine Whetstone celebrated her 89th birthday with four generations of family present. Her husband, Joe, presented her with a heart–cut ruby ring earlier last month, saying “Sweetheart, you need this for your birthday.”

Christine has not seen the ring that looks so lovely on her hands, as she has had, for 17 years, macular degeneration. She has not even seen the face of her husband of almost three years, and Joe jokes, “she doesn’t even know how good looking I am.”

For many years Joe and Christine lived around the corner from one another, but never met until after the death of Joe’s first wife. On their first date they went to the symphony and after the third date, he proposed.

Christine was hospitalized just prior to their wedding date, but was released the morning she and Joe were married — the afternoon of May 1, 2006, in a ceremony at home.

Christine always had a special touch in her garden and with the many needle arts in which she excelled. One year, she won 11 prizes at the State Fair on her appliqué, quilting, knitting and crocheting projects.

Christine can no longer pursue those hobbies, but she and six other devoted readers still meet weekly, as they have for the past 20 years, for book club. Members take turns reading aloud and Christine listens to books on tape. Their range of topics is eclectic — recently they discussed N.D. Walsh’s Conversations With God.

Joe’s first and long career was as a certified Master Plumber, and at 81, he was still working the backhoe for Superior Mechanical. A World War II veteran who cooks grits, bacon and eggs for their breakfast each morning, he attributes his health and stamina to “living right and eating right.”

On the Whetstone’s wall, hangs Joe’s citation from the U.S. Navy Commander of the Seventh Fleet. He was presented the Silver Star by rear Admiral G. R. Henderson for “gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving with the crew of escort carrier in the Southwest Pacific Area.”

“I was the pointer for the gun,” he says. “On that particular mission we shot eight Japanese suicide planes coming at us, one right after the other.”

Christine and Joe agree their prescription for happiness could be summed up as, “Love one another and never go to bed mad.”