‘Six decades of love’ photo goes viral, pulls heartstrings

Photo courtesy Reddit/cocomuldoonA photo of a husband and wife at two different stages in their relationship has gone viral.

Posted by Colleen Muldoon on Reddit, the photo is called "Six decades of love" and features a happy couple on their wedding day and, six decades later, that same doting wife sitting beside her husband's hospital bed.

"It's funny that my initial response to this was a feeling of sadness, a hit of mono no aware, but then as soon as I thought about it, I realised that this is an incredibly happy photo," one redditor commented. "Everything ends eventually, and what more could you possibly ask for than a long life filled with love? We should all be so lucky. This photo fills me with happiness for those two people. 6 decades of love is a hell of a lot more than most of us get."

The Huffington Post spoke with Muldoon, who identified the elderly couple as her grandparents, James and Lauretta Burke.

She told the site that her grandparents met and wed shortly after WWII and were married for 64 years. They settled down in Ohio and raised nine children, all of whom married — there are no divorces in their family, something Muldoon credits to her grandparents' legacy of love — and gave James and Lauretta 23 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

A few years ago, Lauretta was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

"Once she started being forgetful, he'd step up and remember the birthdays and graduations," Muldoon said of her grandmother, who is now 84. "My grandma was the stubborn one in the beginning but at the end her mind failed her, which was really hard to see."

Earlier this year, James, 87, underwent surgery to implant a pacemaker in his heart. He spent months in and out of the hospital.

"He was basically living for her," Muldoon told the Huffington Post. "They were like the same person after being together for so long, and he didn't want to give up because she knew that he needed him there."

James died on November 13, 2012, after leaving written instructions outlining the best possible care for his wife he'd be leaving behind.

Muldoon said he had one final message for his family: "He said he was going home, and that he would see us all again."