John Mullins was hospitalized in November after being diagnosed with prostate and lung cancer. Bernice Mullins was admitted in December when she lost her leg to her diabetes.
“Can I see her?” John Mullins asked his caregiver when he found out the two were in the same hospital.
“I asked the nurse if it was possible,” said Cheyenne Marion, John Mullins' caregiver. “I was told he was hooked up to too many machines and it was not possible to take him out of his hospital room.”
But John and Marion persevered. They then asked nurses if instead Bernice Mullins could be moved closer to John Mullins. They allowed her to complete the transition.
“They were together about an hour or two holding hands and sleeping,” Marion told WTVR. “I was crying and all other nurses were crying. It was like a real-life 'The Notebook.'”
Together, the Mullins have six children, 16 grandchildren, 41-great-grandchildren and 13 great-great-grandchildren. They've gone through rough times, but their love for one another has never wavered.
According to the couple's granddaughter, Angie Gaines, the two married in Florida in 1945 when John Mullins was in the Navy. Angie's grandparents raised her as a child after the death of her own mother, their daughter.
Forty years after they were married, John and Bernice Mullins decided they couldn't live together anymore. But despite their physical in-home separation, they remained next door neighbors.
“My grandfather was a little bit of a wild child, and that’s when they actually separated 30 years ago. Gaines told WISHTV. "But they never divorced. They never moved away from each other. They lived side by side. They actually got along better that way. Even though they separated, they never stopped caring for each other. He would do her shopping and she would pay his bills. The love never went anywhere.”
Marion said that after being hospitalized, John Mullins would often ask to be brought to his wife's home to see her. He always brought a token to give to his wife.
“I just love her to death,” John Mullins said of Bernice Mullins.
Next month, John and Bernice Mullins will celebrate their 71st anniversary.
Sandy Holt, one of the couple's daughters, thinks her parents are an example of the true meaning of marriage.
“People these days jump into marriage too soon. I think in the back of their minds they always say, 'Well, if it doesn’t work out, we can always get divorced.' That’s not the way it was intended,” Holt told WISHTV. “It was intended to marry this person and become as one as the Lord said and be as one person spiritually. And even though they were apart physically, I feel like they were always together spiritually."
Next month Mr. and Mrs. Mullins will celebrate their 71st wedding anniversary. This month they are in Johnston Willis...