the McDonalds shortly before their 20th wedding anniversary at what is now the Life Care Center in Plainwell. Neil and Betty McDonald are pictured shortly after their wedding in 1994 at Bridgewood Care Center.

Couple find lasting love at local nursing home

By: 
Virginia Ransbottom, Staff Writer

When Betty Christensen moved into Bridgewood Care Center in Plainwell 21 years ago, she found she had a lot in common with Neil McDonald.

Both were residents of the nursing home, both were born with cerebral palsy and wheelchair bound since childhood, both were only children with doting parents, and both were in their early 60s and never married before.

“It took a lifetime to meet each other,” Neil said. “And I chased her until she let me catch her.”

Now getting ready to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary, Betty is 83, and, at 84, Neil still remembers the important dates and numbers.

“We met in June 1993, were engaged in November 1993 and married July 14, 1994, in room 71 (of the nursing home),” he said. “The wedding reception was on Aug. 21, 1994, in the therapy room—which used to be the Bridgewood dining room—with more than 100 people in attendance.”

Through the years, some things have changed slightly. The nursing home is now called the Life Care Center and Betty’s ability to talk has diminished.

“Betty has muscle weakness that makes it hard for her to talk, but I can understand what she’s saying and translate,” Neil said.

When he explains how Betty loves her jewelry and playing Bingo to cash in her points to buy more, Betty starts giggling like a new bride.

Like all married couples, Neil says they don’t always see eye to eye, but it’s been a happy life overall.

For full story, pick up a copy of the July 7 issue of The Union Enterprise or subscribe to the e-edition.

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