Central Vermont couple celebrate socially-distanced 70th anniversary

Published: Aug. 20, 2020 at 8:06 PM EDT
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BERLIN, Vt. (WCAX) - A Central Vermont couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary Thursday, reuniting for the socially-distanced milestone after months of separation.

It was an exchanging of “I love yous” in-person for the first time in three months. Stan and Helen Amadon say only one thing could make this moment more meaningful. “It’s hard because you can’t get any hugs. That’s what you need,” said Helen, who lives at The Gary Residence, a senior-living home in Montpelier.

The high school sweethearts rarely spent a night without each other in more than seven decades. "I do this to myself at night when I go to bed -- give him a hug that way," Helen said.

Now, the 91-year-olds must make a contactless connection in order to be together on their 70th wedding anniversary. “When he’s that close and you can’t touch him, it just doesn’t seem right,” Helen said.

Stan moved into the nearby Woodridge rehab and nursing home last November, but they still shared a lunch almost every day. But the couple haven’t seen each other in person since March, when the facility locked down.

Their son, Clark Amadon, coordinated this very important visit with the help of both facilities. He hoped his folks would get the greenlight to embrace, but Woodridge staff have to uphold strict state guidelines which prohibit physical touch. So, Clark and his wife picked up Helen and put her in a chair as close to her husband as she’s allowed to be. They completed the modest celebration by sharing cake at a safe distance.

"It's very heartwarming and it's sad at the same time -- very bittersweet," Clark said. "Usually we're together as a family, we're sitting next to one another, we're taking a trip, we're maybe having a meal together, either in or out. Right now, it seems so very unsatisfying."

As cooler weather starts to creep in, the family says they wonder how visits like this will be possible in winter, since right now the outdoor setting is the only option. Staff say they're working actively every day to come up with a solution. "We'll define the next safe place to do that within our building," said Woodbridge's Kathleen Craig.

Staff and the family say they’re looking forward to the day facility doors to reopen. For now, they’ll make the most of these precious times together. “We got to do what we have to do at this point. We’re still alive,” Helen said.

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