When Joe Johnson saw Wanda walking down the street, it was love at first sight. He pulled right over and asked her on a date, and the rest is history. On Dec. 28, 1950 they got engaged, and two years later they were married.
The two have now been married for 65 years, and their love has continued to grow throughout the decades.
To celebrate their anniversary, their granddaughter, photographer Shalyn Nelson, asked to do a photoshoot with them that would capture the special love they have for each other.
“I knew I wanted to create something special, and celebrate what true love was to me. And that for me, was my grandparents,” Shalyn told BuzzFeed.
“[My Mamaw] loved every minute. It was so cute to see how excited she was to get all dolled up.”
“This right here is my heart,” Shalyn said. “This right here is the most important thing I have ever been a part of and put together.”
This photo shoot is part of a project Shalyn has been working on called Love, The Nelsons, which she started to celebrate old love. “I’m ready to show lovers around the world that true love still exists,” she said. “There are so many love stories that we don’t know of out there waiting to be shared.”
Before the shoot, Shalyn asked her grandparents to write love letters to each other that they could read out loud. The letter from Joe to Wanda is enough to bring tears to the eyes of even the most stoic, and it demonstrates his incredible and undying love for his wife of 65 years.
“Dearest Wanda, it’s been a long time since I have written you a letter. I think it was when I was working in Canada, that I wrote you last. Anyway, I still love you just as much, probably more. The years have gone by fast. One morning you just wake up and you are OLD. Anyway, I wouldn’t trade them for all the gold in Alaska. We had 3 great kids and lots of fun raising them. Most of the time. We carried them to movies, playgrounds, swimming, ballgames, parties, etc. I wish that we could bring back some of those days. Now they have kids of their own which we have watched them grow, and some now with kids of their own. We must be real old… I love you as much today as the day I married you. And just think, the license only cost $2.00. The best bargain I ever made. With all my love for you, Joe.”
On Wednesday, Shalyn shared with her Instagram followers that Joe has been very sick and is in the hospital fighting for his life. She asked her followers for prayers and said that Wanda has not left her husband’s side through the whole ordeal.
Looking back at the pictures she took of her grandparents has been cathartic for Shalyn, “Because when our lives want to fail us… in the end, the only thing that matters and remains is love.”
“Only love matters at the end of this life, when all is said and done,” Shalyn said. “Love always wins.”
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