Chula Vista couple married for 72 years hold hands, embrace for 1st time since pandemic began

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KABC) -- Francis and Roberta Doiran have been married for 72 years.

Francis lives in their Chula Vista home, which they've owned for 66 years. Roberta, who has dementia, has been living at a care facility for the last three years.

For the first two years, Francis visited Roberta for nearly 12 hours a day, every day, at the Sharp Birch Patrick Skilled Nursing Facility.

"I saw her from 6:30 in the morning to 6 at night, seven days a week. I went there every day," Francis told KGTV.

But that stopped when the pandemic hit. So for the last year, the couple relied on phone calls and video chats.

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With the distance, time has become more precious as Roberta's memories slowly fade away.

"The closer I can be with her, next to her, I think the more memory I can bring around. Because she is losing her memory more often because I'm not there," Francis said.

But their video calls can now be a thing of the past - since the two were recently vaccinated.

"One thing I can do tomorrow is I can hold her hand and I think they said I might be able to hug her a little bit," he said.

Francis has been doing his best to talk to Roberta about her life-long passions, like music.

"You used to sing to me all the time," he told her during their last video call.

Still, Francis was worried that their lengthy time apart would mean Roberta's dementia would get worse.

"That hurts quite a bit of her memory, I think... I'm hoping that once I get to see her more often, I can bring her memory back," Francis said.

Just about 24 hours after their last video call, Francis was able to hug the love of his life in person this week. The two embraced, held hands and chatted in person - something they haven't been able to do for one year.

"How happy I am to see you again, be able to come and visit you at least for a little while, not as often as I'd like to, but it's going to work out OK," he told Roberta, while holding her hand.

The two are cherishing these precious moments together, marking a new chapter in their long book of marriage. It was a hard year, but now that they can spend time together, it was all worth the wait.



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