Husband Continues 40-Year Valentine’s Day Tradition for Wife with Dementia

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77-year-old Ron Kramer has given his wife, 74-year-old Donna, the same box of chocolates for 39 years. Donna is now losing her memory, but Ron is as steadfast as ever in his Valentine’s Day routine.

It all started on January 2nd, 1979, when Ron, then an insurance salesman in Albuquerque, knocked on Donna’s door. Donna was going through a divorce at the time, and Ron had been divorced for five years.

Donna came to the door wearing a quilted bathrobe and Big Bird slippers, looking, as she says, “really sexy.”

But the odd fashion statement didn’t deter Ron. He asked her and her daughter out to the Ice Capades, and Ron and Donna hit it off.

Before Valentine’s Day, he asked if she liked chocolates, and she told him she preferred dark chocolate cremes from a gourmet candy shop in Albuquerque called Buffet’s Candies. Ron happily obliged and purchased an assortment of her favorite chocolates in a heart-shaped box. The clerk told him that if he brought back the box next year, he’d only have to pay for the chocolates.

And so he did. For 39 years.

Ron and Donna got married less than five months after they met. And they’re still together to this day and continuing their Valentine’s Day tradition:

On February 1st, Donna asks Ron if he’s bought her chocolates yet. Ron digs the box out of its place in the closet, takes it to the candy shop, and brings it back laden with chocolates. Donna eats one per day, making the delicacies last until May, according to Ron.

Over the years, Donna has been through a stroke and two breast cancer battles. In 2014, she was diagnosed with dementia, and a year later she was moved to a nursing home. Her long-term memory is still strong, but her short-term memory has taken a hard hit, and the condition will only get worse with time.

But even as Donna’s memory disintegrates and she is unable to remind him to buy the chocolates, Ron says he will continue to show his love for her in his customary fashion, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health.

But this isn’t the only sweet thing Ron does for the love of his life. He visits her every day, bringing her a Coca-Cola, a piece of gum, and fruit. Since Donna moved in, Ron has only missed three days with her, when he went to visit his 96-year-old aunt.

“I made a commitment, and the commitment’s gonna be for the rest of our lives,” he says. “I’ve been with her. I’ll never leave her.”

Check out the video below to see more of Ron and Donna’s beautiful love story.

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Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?
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