90-year-old male cycling 2 hours every day for 7 years to see his sick wife in a nursing home

LIFE STORIES

No distance can prevent a 90-year-old man from being with his wife every day, even if it means riding a bicycle for two hours to see her in a nursing home. Although he admits that his wife’s health is deteriorating, this does not change his unbreakable love for her and his determination to see her every day.

There is nothing more inspiring and hopeful than to hear stories that prove that true love exists. In a world where separations and divorces are common, it’s nice to hear stories of enduring love that show you can still live happily ever after.

In the Netherlands, a 90-year-old man has held an oath to be with his wife in sickness and health since they married more than six decades ago. Even a 10.6-mile trip from his home in Deepenwen to a nursing home in Apeldoorn didn’t stop him from seeing his wife.

Making the 10.6-Mile Trip

Whether it’s a scorching hot summer day or a snowy cold winter afternoon, Peter Burkhardt doesn’t care – he will get on his bike to see his wife. It’s an hour to two-hour commute, with the wind often against him, but no matter the circumstances, he makes the trip to be with her for a couple of hours.

His wife, Clara, has dementia and was placed in a nursing home to get her needed care. Unfortunately, the only nursing home that accepted her that was one more than ten miles away from home, and while that might have hassled anyone else, it was no problem for Peter.

When asked whether he thinks Clara knows about the commute he makes every day, he admits that she doesn’t because it’s outside her realm of experience.

His Advanced Age is Nothing

For seven years, Peter has done everything he could to be with her daily. While he used to alternate taking a car and his regular bike, he had to stop driving after his driver’s license was disapproved.

Nowadays, he rides a tricycle after suffering a fall due to the wet leaves on the road. He was given an undercarriage with an extra wheel at the bicycle shop, which he now uses. The tricycle has been driven over 24,000 miles, and it was all to visit Clara.

His Motivation

Seeing Clara is a breath of fresh air for Peter. He shares how she gives him a nice hug now and then when he visits. However, even on Clara’s bad days, Peter wants to be with her. He said:

«My motivation is in Apeldoorn. I want to see her, hear her voice. When I enter the nursing home I immediately know where she is. She is no longer the same as she was, but I’m still in love with her. Every time I go home, I think it’s a sad moment.»

When asked whether he thinks Clara knows about the commute he makes every day, he admits that she doesn’t because it’s outside her realm of experience. Despite this, her occasional hugs and presence are more than enough for Peter.

Having His Children’s Support

Even at 90 years old, he wishes to keep visiting Clara. While his mobility has slowed down, he’s optimistic he’ll be able to continue cycling, and on days when the weather is bad or when he has minor injuries, he can count on his children to take him.

Talking about their parents’ enduring love, one of their sons, Wounter Burkhardt, believe that seeing one another keeps them alive. He also hopes that his father’s perseverance to see the love of his life inspires other people, serving as an inspiration to keep the love going no matter what happens.

Inspired Messages from Worldwide

True enough, the story has inspired all those who have seen it. They, too, shared inspiring stories of love, especially those that involved the elderly:

«Reminds me of my Papa. He couldn’t bicycle because of his broken hip but insisted on seeing my mother everyday even though she very rarely recognized him. He said he recognized her and loved her. They had met and fallen in love before the war but had to wait until after to marry. They were in love for 67 years, married for 62. He died exactly 2 months after she passed away. His last words were, (in Dutch) “I go to your mother.” – Bea VanWyk McPherson (January 21, 2023)

«We lived near a nursing facility and appreciated a man who came (on a bus) to visit his wife. For several years he took her for a walk each day, then pushed her in a wheelchair. Every woman I know prayed for a husband like that.» – Sunne Brandmeyer (January 21, 2023)

«We should all be so lucky to have a spouse/partner as dedicated as he is!» – Shelley Finance (January 21, 2023)

For many older persons, separation from their spouses so that they can receive the necessary care is a harrowing reality. Despite the distance, it is touching to see how their love remains unchanged and even grows stronger every day.

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