Love Endures

Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - 1:16pm

By Margaret Angus

Glendyre (Glen) and Art Brown are deeply in love. They recount their shared memories - 70 years’ worth - with ease and pride. They have spent a lifetime together -working, raising children, creating a home and contributing to community. Glen, age 93 and Art, 95, were recently admitted to the QEII Health Sciences Centre. And while they’d rather be at home, they are grateful that hospital staff have worked to grant their one wish - to stay together.

Love at first sight…almost
When Glen Macdonald started work at the Halifax Dockyards in 1941, Art Brown was the one to show her around the office. Before long, Glen and Art’s coworkers could see what the two hadn’t yet acknowledged - they belonged together.

“People in the office kept dropping notes saying I was keeping an eye on Art,” says Glen. Art says his coworkers were crafting notes under his name and giving them to Glen. While the couple first ignored their coworkers’ efforts, they soon gave in and began dating. It wasn’t long before Art proposed.

“He loved canoeing on the North West Arm,” says Glen. “I went out canoeing with him and there in the pitch dark, he gave me the engagement ring. He had to use his lighter so I could see it!”

The two were married in July 1943. This, Art says with amusement, in spite of Glen’s father’s hesistance. “He said, ‘You’re not going to marry him. He’s thin as a rail!’”

A life together
Much has happened in the 70 years since Glen and Art exchanged their vows. The two raised four daughters - Cheryl, Karen, Susan and Judy. “Our children were all so good,” says Glen.

The couple even approached work as a team. When Art took a job with Powers Regulator Company in 1960, Glen signed on as his stenographer. Daughter Cheryl says she was always amazed that even after her parents came home from work, her mother would listen patiently as Art continued to talk shop. “He talked about work…” says Cheryl. Her mom joins in: “ALL the time!”

After Art retired, Glen supported Art’s passion for artistic pursuits including woodworking - his beautifully crafted shaker boxes were chosen for the February 1996  cover  of Canadian Workshop Magazine and were sold at the Nova Scotia Art Gallery. Art also built a replica of the Titanic deck chair, which is currently featured in the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.

“He can do anything!” Glen exclaims proudly.

Meanwhile, Glen has been an avid reader and keeps Art abreast of current affairs.

Glen and Art reminisce about their homes - in downtown Dartmouth, then Clayton Park. They talk about the Bedford munitions explosion in 1945 that had them evacuate their home overnight and spend the day with Art’s boss and his wife, enjoying a picnic lunch and exploring Dartmouth. They talk proudly about their children and their grandchildren. Of course a marriage spanning 70 years has held many challenges as well as joys, but they always faced life together, supporting and celebrating in turn. The most difficult period was caring for and ultimately losing their daughter, Karen, to brain cancer in 2007. Despite this heartbreak, their positivity, optimism and love of life impresses all who meet them.

In sickness and in health
Art has been fortunate to enjoy good health until very recently. Glen hasn’t been as lucky. In the past 40 years, she has undergone triple bypass surgery, treatment for cancer, and rehabilitation for a physical injury that resulted in several broken bones. Every day that Glen spent in hospital, Art visited, bringing her coffee, feeding her and keeping her company.

Glen had a stroke and was admitted to neurology unit of the Halifax Infirmary on Nov. 21. Art visited daily. A week later, however, Art himself landed in the emergency department and had to be admitted due to complications from previously undiagnosed cancer.

“We asked staff, ‘Could they possibly be in the same room?’” says Judy Brown, the couple’s youngest daughter.

Thanks to collaboration among staff, Glen and Art have been able to stay together, first in neurology and then on the community health unit.

“We just moved some beds around to keep them together,” says Sherry Chiasson, charge nurse at the neurology unit. “We felt we had to make it happen.”

Tara Dempsey, charge nurse on the community health unit, echoes the sentiment.

“It was such a simple thing to do. Especially at this time of year, it just means so much."

Art and Glen and their family (who live out of province in New Brunswick and Ontario) are thrilled that they are able to remain together. “

They’re very happy,” says Judy. “She’s still caring for him. He’s still caring for her.”

When asked to reveal their secret to 70 years of happy marriage, Art says, “Never go to bed angry.”

“That’s right,” says Glen. “We never did.”