At long last: Couple finds love, 50 years later
After their spouses died, Lorraine Mercier and Robert Marois moved into the same Gatineau seniors' home
Lorraine Mercier and Robert Marois first met 50 years ago, near the shore of a lake where families in their community would gather in the summertime to play bridge.
At the time, they were neighbours. Both had families and young children.
Nevertheless, Lorraine remembered thinking Robert had beautiful blue eyes.
"It was taboo. There was no way I was thinking [romantically] about him," she said in a French-language interview with Radio-Canada, 50 years later.
"I blocked everything. We continued with our lives."
A lucky surprise
Robert moved away in the late 1960s, and Lorraine assumed she would never see him again.
Decades later, after her husband died, she moved into Domaine des Trembles, a seniors' residence in Gatineau.
Then, last September, fate brought a lucky surprise: Robert, whose wife had also died, moved into the same home.
I couldn't explain it. It was really so strong!- Lorraine Mercier -Marois
When she heard he'd moved in, Lorraine didn't hesitate. She walked right up to his room and — her heart beating fast — knocked on his door.
Soon enough, they'd picked up right where they'd left off, resuming their old conversations and filling in the blanks for each other about the years in between.
She told him about her son in Australia, how she wanted to visit him but was too frightened of the long journey to go alone.
Robert immediately said he'd go with her — and it was that moment, she said, that she realized she was in love again.
"I couldn't explain it. It was really so strong!" she said. "My children would say, 'Come on, mom, at your age? [And I would reply,] 'Don't ask me to explain my feelings to you, I don't understand them. But it's just beautiful.'"
A winter wedding
In December 2018, a few days before Christmas, Lorraine and Robert made a promise to look after each other until the end of their lives.
"We were at the restaurant with the family," Lorraine recalled. "And he said to everyone, 'Do you know that Lorraine and I are getting married?'"
That's when Robert proposed.
"I don't know if you got on your knees, but it was close," Lorraine recalled, turning to her new husband. "You took my hand, then proposed to me."
The couple had a winter-themed wedding with their families three days before Christmas.
In sickness and in health
Despite the health challenges that come with old age, Lorraine — whose surname is now Mercier-Marois — said they show each other love and compassion every single day.
Robert suffers from aphasia, a disorder that affects his ability to communicate through language. It means he has to take his time to formulate words. He speaks tenderly, often laughing, to his wife.
He usually leaves it to Lorraine to share their story when someone asks.
"Robert was unhappy alone, without his wife," she said. "He was in a condo. He was looking for company. I could see that he was suffering from aphasia and I thought it was so difficult, I have to be with him. We're going to get through this."
The two now share an apartment at the seniors' residence.
"I would like people who find loneliness difficult to be as lucky as we are. Robert is the greatest gift of my life," she said. "People must not despair."
With files from Jhade Montpetit