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Bruce & Elaine... Good days together

Finding love in the golden years

By Elaine Haala of New Ulm

Bruce and Elaine Haala, were married on June 29, 2018. He was 68 and she was 72 on their wedding day. Contributed photo

Once in a lifetime you meet someone who changes everything. My someone was Bruce Haala.

We met playing bingo at the New Ulm Legion. He asked me out several times and I turned him down. One night he asked if he could take me out for coffee. I actually said yes! He gave me his number and I threw it away. It seemed like every time we played bingo our friends always sat first so the only place left for me was next to him. I got tired of hearing “you two make such a cute couple, you should date each other.”

I said let’s go on a date and get it over with. We had a great day out, we laughed together and talked forever. So now we went out for drives and just spent a lot of days together. I was retired but worked at the grocery for something to do. He told me later on that he wanted to see me so he would drive from Sleepy Eye to New Ulm and shop at the grocery just so he could talk to me.

Several months passed. He finally had the courage to hug me and kissed me when he was leaving to go home. A few weeks later we talked about what if we would get married. I had been a widow since 1994. He lost his wife in 2013. Both of us had lived alone awhile. We decided to take the chance and get married.

We went to buy our rings and a few weeks later we went to the courthouse for our license. It was early summer and I picked August for a wedding date. He did not want to wait. However, we bought a house and had to be married for paperwork. In June 29, 2018 we were married -- for better or worse!

We were happy together and traveled until December 2021. We had to adjust to living together, as he put it we became comfortable with each other. We went to his church together, still played bingo, and during Covid we spent all our time together. Very few times did we disagree. We had ups and downs like all married couples do. When you have lived alone it’s an adjustment to have someone around all day every day. He hugged me every day and would say every day we have together is a good day. He bought me flowers almost every month. He loved me more than I could have imagined. He was so proud to tell people this is my wife. If there were tears on a tough day we still had each other.

In January 2022 we went to bed laughing and talking about a trip we had planned. At 5 am he woke me up hugging me really hard. When I realized he was in trouble, I went to his side of the bed and in the light I could see he had suffered a massive stroke. He was airlifted and spent two weeks at Abbott. Against our wishes he was sent to a care center for rehab. He was there 36 hours and fell four times. The last fall caused severe brain damage. I was able to have him at home for 19 days with the help of Hospice and our kids. He was in a care center the last few days. They let me lay by him his last day -- hold him and talk to him and cry for all we had hoped to share, which now would never be. We were a few weeks short of our fourth anniversary.

When we married he was 68 and I was 72. If we had never taken the chance to marry each other, we would have missed out on all the fun we had together. He was right -- everyday we had together was a good day.

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