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How We Live: A Love Story

In 2017, Betty Mills, 88, moved to Eskaton Lodge Granite Bay from Red Bluff to be closer to her daughter. The first Sunday after she moved, Betty decided to go to church with her neighbors. As she was waiting for the bus, she locked eyes with a man sitting on a bench outside the community.

Don Journey, 89, was sitting on his favorite bench watching the world. On that particular Sunday morning, Don was also waiting for the bus for church. Word of new neighbors travels fast at this small community, so Don already knew that Betty was originally from Iowa—and he knew immediately that he wanted to introduce himself to her.

Don was not looking for a romantic relationship when he saw Betty that morning. He was simply hoping to strike up a friendly conversation with a fellow Iowan. When he got on the bus, Betty offered him a seat and Don gladly accepted. That bus ride to church began the next chapter of their lives.

After that first bus trip, Don asked Betty on an official date. They went to a bird sanctuary and on the way home, Betty fell asleep on Don’s shoulder, still holding his hand. From that moment, they began spending all of their free time together. Their weekly dates included going to church and Bible study.

“I realized I was in love after our third date,” shares Don. Betty never imagined falling in love again. At the beginning, she told Don, “We are too old to be in love. But here we are completely in love!” Betty and Don have since dated for two years. Today Betty believes, “you are never too old for love.”

After losing their spouses, neither of them expected to feel this type of connection with another person. Both Betty and Don had been happily married for over 60 years and had recently lost their spouses. “The Lord brought us together,” says Don. “We were meant to be.” Losing a partner was devastating and left both with a feeling of emptiness. “Our relationship changed everything,” says Betty.

 “It is an amazing feeling to be in love again. I love her smile, her beauty, and just everything about her,” shares Don. The happy couple sit on the couch holding hands, staring adoringly at each other and occasionally stealing a kiss. Their love brightens up the entire room. “We are just two silly kids in love,” they admit.

 Don and Betty were recently married on July 27 surrounded by close family at Eskaton Lodge Granite Bay. Don is 91 and Betty is 90. Their secret to living well is resiliency. “The world will knock you down sometimes but just get back up and put in 100% or 200%,” says Don. “This is just what we do now, hold hands and smile at each other,” says Betty. They are most looking forward to spending the rest of their lives together.

With a combined experience of over 120 years of successful marriage, Betty and Don’s advice for couples is to be patient with each other, to bring an open heart and mind to the marriage, and to look forward to every minute they are blessed to experience together. 

Reprinted with permission of Eskaton, a nonprofit senior care provider offering innovative housing, healthcare, and social services in the Sacramento region.