Saskatchewan

Health problems separate Regina couple after 60 years together

They are described as one of the couples that were "meant to be" but Mary and Ignatius Sebastian's different health needs mean the Regina couple can't live together in their golden years.

"You kind of ride over the bumps and make the best of it," said Mary Sebastian

Mary and Ignatius Sebastian used to live together in a retirement residence but three years ago, Ignatius had a serious fall. Now he lives at the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre. (Submitted by Greg Sebastian)

As the oldest of the baby boomers turn 70, CBC looks at the changes ahead as this group enters its golden years. This series asks if we are ready for the challenges ahead. 

Mary Sebastian enthusiastically describes her husband Ignatius Sebastian as "magnificent."

Those might sound like the words of a newlywed but the couple has been together for 63 years. They have eight children, 13 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

"They were one of those couples that were meant to be together," said their son Greg Sebastian.

After all these years, the couple still shares tender moments and gentle hugs, but now only a few times a week.

Mary and Ignatius live in separate places.  

For years, they were living together in a retirement residence and doing well despite Ignatius' Parkinson's disease and Mary's dementia.

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      Greg says Mary would help with her husband's mobility and Ignatius would help Mary with her memory.

      On Father's Day in 2013, Ignatius had a serious fall. He now has trouble swallowing and eating. It meant he had to move to Wascana Rehabilitation Centre for more intensive care. 

      Mary can't live on her own so she now lives in a Regina house that's been converted into a senior care home.
      It's three kilometres away from the rehabilitation centre.

      Both say they are very happy with the care they are receiving in their respective places, but they miss living together.

      "That's nice that I can go to visit but the separation is not good," Mary said.

      Even though Mary often forgets events and sometimes people, she still remembers moving away from Ignatius. 

      "How can you forget something like that?" questioned Mary.  

      Now Mary visits Ignatius once or twice a week with the help of their children. They have a weekly date on Sundays to go to a church service inside the rehabilitation centre. 

      Iggy likes to check Mary's hand to make sure she's wearing her wedding ring before they head to the service.

      Their son Greg says he'd like to see his parents under the same roof, but he's not sure if it will be possible in the future. 

      For now, Mary says she's dealing with it like she has for most things in her life; "You kind of ride over the bumps and make the best of it."

      About the Author

      Abby Schneider

      Associate Producer

      Abby Schneider finds and reports on Saskatchewan stories as an associate producer for CBC Radio's The Morning Edition. Follow @AbbyCBC.

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