Vernon and Roxana McAuley have been inseparable since they meet more than 32 years ago, and a stay at Blue Water Hospice Home was not about to change that. They became the first married couple at the Hospice Home to be admitted at the same time. Because they couldn’t stand being apart, they spend most of their time together at the Hospice Home.
Their story, is a true love story. Something we all hope to experience in our lifetime…
As a young man, drawing was Vernon’s love and he parlayed this into a long career first in the Navy then as an industrial artist. After enlisting in 1965, an officer noticed the intricacy of his artwork, and soon Vernon was officially a Navy artist – spending his four years creating various drawings for the military. After his service, he took his love of drawing to a new level and became an industrial artist with Wirtz Manufacturing. An industrial artist draws the various mechanisms of machines, very detailed. The work we see today is created via computer, but in Vernon’s time, it was all done by hand with pencil and paper. He grew his art into hand-painted signs, vehicle decals, and much more. One of his pieces was found by a friend in China!
Roxana loved her work as well. She found her calling in adult foster care, and worked in this field for many years. Later, she provided in-home care for patients of varying illnesses.
Vernon and Roxana met in 1987. At the time, she had recently divorced and was a strong-willed woman determined to remain single, stating she didn’t need a man! That was until she met Vernon one evening while playing Euchre with Lois and Phil. The two couples remain best of friends to this day.
It was love at first sight, well, at least for Vernon it was, Roxana was adamant she was going to remain single and raise her two boys, Chris and Pat. Vernon asked her to take walks around her neighborhood with him, talking about family, friends, jobs, anything to spend time with her. It wasn’t long before Roxana was in love too, and February 14 the following year, they were married.
Before they knew it, their family of four was a family of eight! Chris and Pat found themselves big brothers to Steve, Brian, and twins Jerry and Cary. Together, they regularly camped, played sports, anything to stay busy. After the boys were grown, Vernon and Roxana began playing horseshoes at the Moose Lodge in Port Huron. It wasn’t long before they were winning tournaments – they took first place for two consecutive years. Winning competitions was nothing new to Vernon. Back in his younger years, he held three state titles for arm wrestling, collecting 39 trophies.
In 1998, Roxana had a stroke, and their activities came to a halt. The home-care health worker who cared for numerous individuals was now the patient. The couple took another hit when Vernon was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016. Side-by-side, they cared for each other, staying true to their vows…in sickness and in health. Recently, their health started to fail, and it was difficult to remain in their home. Together, they entered the Blue Water Hospice Home. They haven’t been apart since they were married, they were not about to start now!
While sharing their story, Vernon regularly looks fondly over at Roxana. The loving bond they share is absolutely undeniable. True love to the end.
Writer’s Note: It is with sadness I share that Roxana passed on August 6 and Vernon followed on August 8. As they lived their lives, side-by-side, they will forever be together. It was truly a pleasure to sit with them and hear their love story. Their story was something we all hope for, that special someone to share life… to the end.
Since 1952, Visiting Nurse Association has provided a continuum of care including home health care, palliative care, private duty, adult day program, and hospice care to the people of St. Clair, Sanilac, Lapeer, and Macomb counties. Visiting Nurse Association and Blue Water Hospice is a non-profit organization that provides high-quality, cost-effective health care to any patient and family member with short-term, long-term, or end-of-life care. Learn more about the services offered by VNA/BWH by visiting www.vnabwh.com.