In the mid-1940’s, when he was in the 6th grade, Larry Ward met a girl whose name was Nina. Now, as the story goes (as Larry likes to tell it), Nina was sweet on him, and wanted to be his girlfriend. Nina’s father was the Head Baker at Merita Bakery. And that meant he had access to a pretty good supply of something every 6th grader likes.
Not just any bubble gum, but Bazooka Joe Bubble Gum. You know, with the little comic strip wrapped inside? Little Nina would give Little Larry some Bazooka Joe Bubble Gum, and would write him a sweet note inside for him to read. “I like you. Do you like me?” And so began a relationship that would see 61 years of marriage…and counting. Larry and Nina Ward have stood beside each other for some 70 years now, through better and worse…like earlier this year when Nina’s health took an unfortunate turn.
Nina Ward came to Vibra Hospital of Charleston from Medical University of South Carolina due to a neck fracture complicated by a cardiac arrest. After 3 weeks in our hospital, she graduated to our on-site Transitional Care Unit (skilled facility) to rebuild her strength with more extensive rehab. She looked forward to returning to the happy lifestyle she enjoyed before, spending time with her family, friends, and German Shepherd “Gunny” (but not before taking some time to enjoy a little limbo with the TCU team)!
Larry said, “Vibra has been very responsive to every request we’ve had. The people here treat us like we’re a member of the family. When Nina got here, she couldn’t even move. Now? Now she can move! (Nina smiles at Larry, nodding her head) We got excellent care at MUSC, and we’ve gotten excellent care here at Vibra. We were very blessed that Nina is here, and I wouldn’t want her to be anywhere else”. One of many goals here at Vibra is to respond promptly when called. Asked about our responsiveness, Larry said, “Let me tell you, if I push that button, someone will be in here before my thumb is off the button. I’m thankful we have a place in Charleston like Vibra that takes such great care of their patients”.
Asked about that gum, and their relationship, during Nina’s stay here at Vibra Hospital, Larry laughed and said, “I would chew that gum everyday for a month! When I got tired of chewing it, I would stick it in the refrigerator and just pull it back out later”. Nina smiled and held Larry's hand as he told the story for what must have been the 1,000th time. “This is what a marriage of 61 years looks like”. Spend a few minutes with them and it’s obvious they are still deeply in love.
We checked in with their son, David, recently to see how his parents are doing. He said, “They’re doing great. Mom was even able to use a cane last week so she continues to make tremendous progress. We are all very pleased and so thankful for the care she received”!
We at Vibra Hospital of Charleston and our Transitional Care Unit are truly privileged to play a small part in their love story. Thank you for your trust and friendship!