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Devoted seniors keep Valentine’s Day alive

By Staff | Feb 8, 2011

Gunther Grutzkuhn and Joyce Kissinger, both from Muncy, met at the Senior Center and became good friends. They often go out to eat together on 'dates' and like to spend time talking to one another. Rae and LaMarr Pentz who both lost their spouses, met at the Senior Center, fell in love, and got married.

MUNCY – Surviving Valentine’s Day after your sweetheart has passed away, can leave an overwhelming void in your heart. It’s difficult to be happy on Valentine’s Day when all you can think about is the person you have lost.

Many seniors admit, that after a period of such loss and grievance has taken its toll, it gets lonely and they miss the company of another, preferably the opposite sex.

“When you’re alone, you’re alone,” said Gunther Grutzkuhn from Muncy who lost his wife in 2006. For the past year and a half he has been coming to the Meck Senior Center where he said he has met some very nice people, one in particular who has caught his eye. Joyce Kissinger was easy to talk to admitted Grutzkuhn. “You have to have someone to talk to. It is lonely to sit in front of TV all the time by myself. After awhile you are rehashing the same things over and over again,” he said.

Ruth Bieber who lost her husband four years ago, recalls how Valentine’s Day holds precious memories, and even though the holiday is difficult to get through, she said she is grateful to be able to come to the senior center and be with other people. “We like to play cards and bingo, put puzzles together and do exercises. It’s hard over the holidays for me,” she said. She keeps herself on the move, walking around the basketball court several times, and riding her bike when the weather is nice. “You need to be able to talk to someone, or you will go mad,” said Bieber.

It’s important to stay integrated in the outside world and to stay busy.

“Get out of the house,” said Rae Pentz. She and her husband LaMarr have been married for two years. Both lost their spouses and started coming to the Senior Center when it was in downtown Muncy explained Rae. “It used to be a saloon with slot machines,” added Gunther about the building. “And we remember Tallman’s was across the street.”

“I was alone for 24 years before I remarried,” said LaMarr Pentz, 86 and a World War II veteran. “I never thought I would get married again,” he said. “And neither did I,” added Rae. “We even lived together for a few months before getting married,” they said. After LaMarr sold his house to his daughter, he moved in with Rae whom he had been dating for about a year. They enjoy delivering Meals on Wheels together every Thursday in the Hughesville and Picture Rocks area. LaMarr drives and Rae delivers.

“We like to play cards Friday nights in Heatherbrook Estates,” said Rae. “We have supper together and everyone brings a dish to share, and that’s always fun.”

“”It’s not easy at first,” said Gunther “to start talking when someone new first comes along.” The seniors made some great suggestions to break the ice when approaching a new person for the first time. Get a snack or a cup of coffee and bring it over to the table to offer, look for ice-breakers, common interests. Make associations and find keywords to open up a conversation. You can’t stop living your life they all agreed. And it’s still okay to remember those whom you loved and lost.

The group made it clear that Valentine’s Day is a good time to focus on everyone you love, children, grandchildren and friends and most importantly, yourself.