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Memories fade, but couple's love endures
Lois Draney places her hand on her husband Patricks shoulder as she visits with him at Pleasant View Nursing Home in Monroe earlier this week. In the other hand she holds a box of fudge and a small teddy bear for Patrick, who suffers from Alzheimers disease and has little recollection of their 54 years of marriage. (Times photo: Anthony Wahl)
MONROE - The heart that truly loves never forgets, so the saying goes.

Lois and Patrick Draney, Monroe, will celebrate 55 years of marriage this fall. They are still very much in love, as one can tell from the look on their faces when they are together.

"He's very much my Valentine," Lois said, "but he doesn't know it."

Patrick has Alzheimer's disease. About three years ago, Patrick moved to Pleasant View Nursing Home. Lois, who lives in an apartment at Twining Valley, visits him two or three times a week.

On Monday, Lois styled her short white hair to perfection and dressed in a bright red coat. She brought Patrick a little red Valentine box of candy adorned with a little brown stuffed teddy bear.

Patrick was watching television in his room when she arrived. Behind him, photographs of his family, of Lois and him through the years, of his days in the Air Corps, graced the bulletin board.

"Well, hi there," Patrick said, his face lighting up when he saw her.

"Are you happy to see me?" she asked.

"It's wonderful."

"I brought you some candy," she told him.

"Oh, boy, oh, boy," he said.

Lois laughed. "Yeah, you like saying that, don't you? Do you love candy?" She knows he does; he just smiled.

Patrick will be 90 years old in September. Lois turns 88 on Friday.

"We've had some wonderful years," Lois said.

Being together has been has been the hallmark of their marriage.

During the first half of their marriage, Patrick and Lois worked hard and traveled as much as they could. He managed stores for Montgomery Ward and then taught school in Kansas City. Lois owned a beauty shop and then a book store.

But then, when Lois retired in 1984, they sold everything - their home, boat and recreational vehicle - to travel Europe for a year. Patrick had spent a year planning the trip, waiting for Lois to retire.

Lois swoons when recalling all the time and effort Patrick put into scheduling their year on the road, and he still remembers the car they bought for the tour, a Mercedes Benz with a sun roof.

"Oh, you could stand up in that car and see everything as you go by," Lois said.

When they returned, the couple built a new house in Florida for their retirement years, but that didn't last long.

"We decided we were too young to sit around," Lois said.

So they sold the house, moved to a condo, played some golf and kept traveling. They went to Africa, China, Japan and many other countries.

"We were together a lot for many, many years," Lois said, reaching over to touch Patrick's hand.

"Now we have quiet years."

Though they can't be together as much - weather is a major factor limiting their visits - Patrick and Lois are still active in their separate ways.

Patrick makes frequent trips around Pleasant View. He's well-known there for his singing voice, and especially likes to sing "You Are My Sunshine" and "Clementine."

Lois is busy with bowling twice a week, playing cards at the Senior Center, baking, and golfing in the summer. She still travels a bit, flying across the county to visit family.

But the memories Patrick and Lois made years ago still bind them together today.