Tom Hainey moved into Alhambra Care Center last September to mend after undergoing open-heart surgery, and it was there he would meet the woman to whom he would eventually give that heart away.
Sharon Stewart, originally from Fulton, Kentucky, moved to the center two years ago to be closer to her sister Mary Hanes, who is from Staunton.
Tom, 68, said Sharon, 70, was extremely shy when they first met. Sometimes, she even needed coaxing to get out of her room.
“At first, she wouldn’t even say, ‘Hi,’ to me,” Tom said.
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Then Tom turned on the charm. His warm smile and bright personality began to draw her out more and more often. Soon, they were inseparable.
They learned they had a lot in common. They both love to dance when any kind of music is turned on. They also love to get outdoors as much as they can. Tom has a green-thumb, and Sharon adores watching him garden.
The couple also plays lots of games, and they enjoy helping Cece Kirk, the center’s activity director, set up and take down different recreational pastimes.
“We just have a ball, just being together,” Tom said.
As part of the entertainment last month, Cece decided to organize a mock wedding. Naturally, she said the best candidates for the bride and groom were Tom and Sharon.
However, after the ceremony was finished, Tom asked Cece if it might be possible to organize a real wedding. And Cece said, it was alright with her, if it was alright with Sharon. So Tom got down on one knee and popped the big question. She said, “Yes!”
“He turned my world around,” Sharon said.
On Sunday, July 9, friends and family gathered at Alhambra Care Center to attend the wedding that was the first of its kind for the home on Alhambra’s Main Street. Sharon walked down the aisle in a full-length, white gown and wore a red rose in her hair.
“They just beamed when they saw each other,” said Cece, who helped organize the nuptials and served as the matron of honor, while her husband Jim was the best man.
Sharon was given way by her sister, Mary. Denise Hayden provided the wedding gown and decorations. The residents of the nursing home provided the smiles, cheers, tears and congratulations.
Tom and Sharon will continue to stay at Alhambra Care, where they have found a home in each other.
Alhambra correspondent Freddie Riepshoff contributed to this story.