Couple Reunites After 50 Years and Gets Married in Hospital: 'It's Like Fate Opened the Door'
One man wasn’t about to let cancer stop him from marrying his long-lost sweetheart.
Stephen Walbert met Jennifer Meyerink as a Navy officer in 1962 while he was stationed in her native country of Trinidad.
Walbert, who was 18 at the time, said their romance grew quickly. Despite falling in love, the teens parted ways after Walbert was honorably discharged from the military in 1965.
They tried to make their relationship work, but for many reasons, it couldn’t at the time.
“We were young," Walbert told InsideEdition.com. "I lived in Chicago and her parents wanted her educated in England. I didn’t have money to take care of her."
Walbert gave Meyerink his military dog tag and asked her to keep it until they could meet again.
“That was the last time I saw her until three years ago,” Walbert said.
They both went on to get married and have children. Walbert had a son while Meyerink had two. But in 2014, both of their spouses died.
In 2015, Meyerink asked her sister to help find Walbert, and with the help of Facebook, she did.
“It’s like fate opened the door,” Walbert said. “There was always a flame of love in my heart of love for her.”
The pair emailed and called each other for months before meeting in Toronto, Canada, where Meyerink lives. The couple wasted no time moving forward with their relationship.
Meyerink kept her promise and pulled out the dog tag that Walbert have given her when she was 17 during their first meeting in decades.
“I almost fainted," Walbert said. "After all those years, she still had the dog tag and it was in pristine condition. I proposed the same day."
The couple had plans to live in Canada together and Walbert eventually moved, but in 2016 he was diagnosed with leukemia and he had to move back to the U.S. for treatment.
Despite the grim diagnosis, the couple was not about to let it stop them from tying the knot.
On Monday, surrounded by hospital staff at Rochester General Hospital in New York, as well as family, they both exchanged vows and said, "I do."
Walbert donned an Elvis jumpsuit to commemorate their mutual love of the legendary star.
“I told fate, 'Move aside — I am coming because if I don’t marry her now it may not happen,'" Walbert said. "I said, ‘I can’t let her slip by me one more time.’"
The hospital provided a cake for the couple’s big day.
“It was beautiful," Meyerink said. "It was a surprise. It turned up so wonderful. The hospital was so supportive."