Ed Udas has been a resident of Nemasket Healthcare Center for six months, and his wife of 59 years, Marie, has visited him every one of those days, even when she couldn’t be inside the building. One winter day, Marie sat outside his window in 21-degree weather with her hood over her head, wearing several layers of clothing. “It was worth it,” she says.
Sixty years ago, Ed served in the Navy as a Chief Petty Officer when he docked at the Boston Naval Shipyard. On leave for the night, he decided to go roller-skating, a serendipitous choice, for that was where he first met Marie. In the rink, she struggled skating and kept falling, so he went over and helped her to her feet. “I fell, you picked me up, and that was that!” according to Marie.
Later, Ed accompanied her home on the bus to safely make sure she got home, a kind gesture that meant spending the night in a phone booth before he could get back to his ship. “You could have stayed in my mother’s house!” Marie scolds him gently when recounting the memory; Ed is quick to respond with an “Oh, sure!” Within the year, they were married.
What does Marie like about Ed? “He’s an amazing, good, kind man and a wonderful father. We have two children, a son and daughter, and six grandchildren. We’ve had an incredibly happy marriage.”
And an adventurous one! Ed and Marie were competitive country ballroom dancers in their forties, participating in Baltimore, MD, Texas, and even traveled to Bermuda for competitions. “Ed is very tall, 6’2, and I’m 4’11, so they made us switch partners a lot,” Marie laughs. “But we would rather be together, so we eventually resigned.”
They were also extensive travelers, visiting every state in America “without luxury because we wanted to walk and experience where we were.” When their son moved to Australia, their traveling went international, along with trips to New Zealand. However, it wasn’t the first time they crossed borders; Ed constantly traveled while he was in the service (“for free!” he is quick to point out). Italy was the first place he took Marie, where they remember making wishes in Rome’s famous Fontana di Trevi. Spain was their last international excursion.
Ed worked at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) for 41 years as an instrument maker, developing equipment for experiments and assisting students. Both Ed and Marie retired from work on the same day: September 30th, 2008, and moved to an over-55 community, where they lived for 12 years and where Marie still resides. Ed was at another facility when he experienced a fall; when he was well enough, he transferred over to Nemasket. “Eddie picked it out; he wanted to come here,” Marie says. “It was the place he felt welcome–and the food is very good; he’s always talking about how good it is. Certainly, he’s eating better than me!”
Sitting with Ed and Marie, Nemasket’s Activities Director, Sharon Gosling, has gotten teary-eyed. “Good tears!” she is quick to clarify when asked. Sharon is well-versed in long-time love: her parents were married for 56 years, her grandparents were married for 75 years, and Sharon herself has been married for 30 years!
“I’ve been with Nemasket since 1992, half my life, and it’s definitely the people and this kind of story that keeps me here, this kind of pure love between people. And I can only hope I will have this in the future,” Sharon says, gesturing to Ed and Marie. “I hope that my husband and I can be safe in a good place like this, where people care about you.“
Indeed, there’s something exceptional about how Ed and Marie sit together, quiet but undeniably together. “We’re coming to the end of our lives. So, it’s a joy to be able to be with each other every day,” Marie says, and Ed confirms: “Yes, definitely.”
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