By Angela Norris
The bride entered the room in a white lace wedding dress and pearls, holding a bouquet of white flowers, blushing as she meets her future husband. This is her first marriage. She is several days away from her 80th birthday.
The bride, Betty Howell, married Dan Fitzpatrick, 71, on April 6 at Greenwood Meadows Senior Community in an intimate family gathering, with a small reception that followed.
The couple met at Greenwood Meadows Senior Community in 2014 while playing a game in the community activities room.
“At first, I thought he didn’t like me because he wasn’t talking to anyone,” Betty said. Yet she knew right away that there was something special about Dan. “He has a big heart,” she said.
“The thing I love most about Betty is she gives freely; (she has a) very gracious heart,” Dan said.
The pair became close friends over the years, even attending the Greenwood Meadows senior prom together in the spring of 2017. Dan and Betty were crowned king and queen of the prom that night.
Betty wore a flowing satin, lavender princess gown and a yellow flower corsage on her wrist. Dan donned a black suit with a royal blue shirt and tie. They were given king and queen sashes to wear, and Betty was given a bouquet of red roses after being crowned.
Over the next year, the couple grew very close, fell in love, and then became engaged in February this year, when Betty asked Dan to marry her. Love flows through the couple’s lives. Betty’s smile, their gentleness toward each other, Dan’s adoring looks and the brightness in their eyes is enough to know this was a prayer answered.
The big day
The couple married in a room decorated with light blues and white satin, beautiful flowers, glowing candles and pictures of Dan and Betty on the tables. At the front of the isle, Dan sat in his chair, eagerly awaiting his bride to come through the door, while family and guests talked about the joyous occasion.
In front of an archway of white flowers, Betty’s grandson Jonathan Eickman was ready to perform the ceremony and Betty’s granddaughter Paige Sevigny stood close by as her bridesmaid in a full-length blue gown. As the music started playing, everyone in the room stood up to greet Betty with smiles as she came through the doors and down the aisle.
Betty’s decorated wheelchair was pushed by her only daughter, Jo Watkinson, and Jo’s husband John, as Watkinson shed tears of joy. As Betty and Dan began to say their vows, they gently reached for each other; both had tears in their eyes. They whispered vows to each other so quietly that only they could hear them. The room filled with tears to see the devotion of one another.
After Dan and Betty were finished saying their vows to each other, Jonathan said, while wiping tears from his eyes, “Well, we could have just done that the whole time.” The guests laughed and agreed with Jonathan. Betty and Dan then repeated after Jonathan, saying their “I dos” to each other. The couple then gently exchanged rings and were introduced to family and friends for the first time as Mr. and Mrs. Fitzpatrick.
Dan and Betty enjoy going to church together and watching old TV shows. The newly married couple’s life is now joined together through the love they have found for each other. Dan and Betty take good care of each other, just like any other loving married couple.
5 Questions with the Fitzpatricks
What did you think of each other when you first met?
Dan: I was very shy and quiet, but something kept drawing me to her.
Betty: I didn’t think he liked me at all; he would never talk.
What was your engagement like?
Betty: I told Dan that I was going to ask him a question that he would probably say no to, but I was going to ask anyway. So, I said, “Will you marry me?” and he said, “Yes.”
What do you love most about Dan?
Betty: He has the biggest heart.
What do you love most about Betty?
Dan: She is beautiful inside and out and she gives freely.
What made you decide that marriage is what you wanted?
Betty: I know that God put me here for this purpose. It was a prayer answered.
Dan: God spoke to me in my heart and I knew I had his blessing.