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Steve & Jeanne - Love Finds a Way

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Hi, my name is Jeanne & I am raising funds to bring Steve home cross country to Oregon. Fifty years ago we were college sweethearts in Chicago at Loyola University's Lakeshore Campus. I was a freshman, Steve a senior. We started spending time together & soon fell in love. He was handsome, extremely intelligent, witty & quite charming with a killer smile. Times were turbulent & my family was not understanding or tolerant of interracial dating. We dated secretly for 7 years. Although Steve was now in graduate school, worked full time and lived on the south side of Chicago, he commuted to the Lakeshore Campus as much as he could to see me. I graduated in 1975 & proceeded to enter nursing school. Steve was pursuing a master's degree in education. Time constraints & distance kept us apart but we spoke by phone daily & all seemed well in the relationship. However, stressors began to build for me & I took a full time evening position at a local hospital. My world suddenly turned upside down.

My schedule was opposite Steve's, as well as everyone else's. I worked every other weekend with inconsistent days off. In addition it quickly became evident how little I knew about a myriad of illnesses & teaching people to care for themselves. The inadequacies of my nursing proficiencies, coupled with fears of an inability to spend time with Steve mounted. How could our relationship grow? One night Steve called me at work & something inside me broke. I ended our relationship over the phone. It was not my finest hour & it was a cowardly act I regretted all my life. Steve & I never spoke or saw each other again.

Forty two years later, retired, with a computer & nothing but time on my hands, could I find him? Could I apologize? Could we be friends? I began to search the internet with no success. Every lead turned up a dead end. I searched off & on for months with no luck. One day I decided, this was it, my last attempt to locate Steve. Lo & behold his niece's name popped up with a recent address. I wrote her; she called me. She told me Steve was in a nursing home & had difficulty walking. I verified he was still in the nursing home & wrote him. An apology forty two years too late. Weeks passed with no response. Knowing that health privacy policies would prevent me from obtaining any

information of his condition, I called the facility anyway. As expected I was told he is alert & oriented & fine. I mentioned that I had written him with no response. All I was told was "he can't". Now I had to find out what had happened to Steve. I called his niece who said she would call the facility & call me back. The call never came. The decision was made. Chicago & Steve, here I come. Two weeks before I left, I wrote Steve again of my coming, but he never received that note before my arrival.

I sat in the lobby of the facility nervously awaiting our meeting. The Director of Social Services inquired of my visit. When I told her that Steve & I were college sweethearts, showed her Steve's graduation picture & shared that we hadn't seen each other in forty two years, she decided to bring Steve down herself. Butterflies, butterflies, butterflies. The minute he rolled into the visiting room & uttered the sweet nickname he gave me, forty two years melted away. He & I were 18 & 21 again. We cried, we laughed, we held each other. And most wonderfully we realized we were still in love. We were the first true & real loves of each other's lives.

Unfortunately Steve had had two strokes leaving him debilitated. But he is alert as alert can be! The nursing home in which he resides now has not given him the attention & care he sorely needs. I was told by staff that I was his first visitor in ten years. He longs for companionship & quality of life.

We both would like to be together, but moving him to Oregon is very costly & outside my financial means. Because of his physical impairments he has to travel by gurney, which makes the journey more costly. He will need an adjustable bed & some equipment in order for me to take proper care of him. Our wish is to live a happy future together. We believe love truly finds a way. Any donations to help our dream come true are greatly appreciated. Thank you.



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Jeanne Gustavson
Oregon, OR

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