“You have to have faith.” That’s what this couple would say to me today, if I were to ask them for advice…about anything. In my 99th submission to the 100 Strangers project, I share a portrait of a devoted couple: Harold and Bernice of Albuquerque, New Mexico. When I met them, they had been married for 75 years and were proudly wearing matching wedding bands. They walked with their arms tightly interlocked, as pictured here: he steers, and she keeps them to a quick pace.
Bernice informed me that her husband was 95 years old, though she didn’t offer her own age. Harold is mostly deaf and wears double hearing aids that he likes to switch off from time-to-time. Bernice has become totally blind over time, although her hearing is perfect. They live together and are wholly interdependent and complete each other.
When I asked to photograph them for a portrait, Harold agreed immediately and asked his wife to stand still.
Bernice was resistant. She admitted to vanity and expressed concern about the appearance of her hair if she were to remove her scarf. I asked her not to worry, and to keep her head covering in place because the color was cheerful and becoming. Still, Bernice needed a few minutes of conversation with me to warm up and become acquainted before agreeing to being photographed.
As we stood together, I set my camera to silent mode, which enabled my being able to capture this candid moment. We were outside in soft natural lighting on an overcast day.
While adjusting the antenna on his right hearing aid fob, Harold said, “I drive better than I walk.” Yes, he drives them everywhere, whenever and wherever his wife wants to go.
I found an article about this lovely couple from the April 6, 2016 in the Albuquerque Journal.
“Harold – and Bernice – married…March 20, 1949. They met on a blind date [THE IRONY], arranged by Bernice’s twin sister. Harold is also a twin. Bernice graduated from business school in 1946 and was recognized for speed and accuracy as a keypunch operator. She worked in the field with Prudential and later, Bristol-Myers. Harold, after serving as a radio operator and in other communications campaigns during World War II, became an expert dental technician, working in that field until he retired. They moved to Albuquerque in 1983 to be close to Bernice’s twin sister. They have a son in Demark, and a daughter in Maryland. They have four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.”