a special story to warm your heart on Valentine’s Day…
Couple yearns for two nights together
Posted By Linda Crabtree, St. Catherine’s Standard
As a longtime Standard columnist who writes on disability issues, I’m used to receiving odd requests, but no one has ever asked me to help arrange a couple of nights in a big bed. Not until now, that is.
An e-mail from Dorothy Pape on Oct. 27 read in part, “My husband, William, is at present separated (from me) in long-term care, and we’d love to have a last night or two together in a big bed, but would have to have a personal-care worker in the next room.”
Nothing tugs at my heartstrings more than married seniors who are separated.
Could I help them? I began to think that with my tourism contacts I could. I’ll tell you about that later, but first, the Papes, Dorothy and William. What a life they’ve had together.
Married for 66 years, Dorothy and William were born in England. They met and became engaged in London, where Dorothy was training as a medical social worker.
“We knew we wanted to be together, but something had to change,” Dorothy said. By chance, Dorothy found a pamphlet about China’s Inland Mission.
“God seemed to say, ‘This is for you.’ ”
They were off to China in 1939, but not to be together. By missionary rules, they had to be in China for two years before they could marry. To learn to speak and to write Mandarin, they were in language schools 1,600 kilometres apart and then spent a year at separate stations with experienced missionaries.
“We were married in Kunming in 1942,” Dorothy said. “I had my dress made in Shanghai because you couldn’t buy western clothing inland. The only link we had with family was Bill’s sister’s wedding picture.” That photo is with them in their wedding picture.
“Two months after settling in our new home in Baoshan, southwest China, the Japanese bombed our city and advanced from Burma,” Dorothy said. “The Chinese army retreated. The Japanese army was almost at our city and we and three fellow missionaries fled into the mountains, seven days’ climb, to our mission station among the Lisu tribe.
“We were cut off from civilization with no shops, post office or radio … out of touch with anyone at home and mission headquarters. “The Lisu had their own language and were animists believing in many spirits. They ate mostly corn, with occasional chicken, eggs or a pig. “One of the missionaries was a nurse, otherwise there was no medical help of any kind. Bill got cerebral malaria and I had typhoid. “We went up into the mountains in May and came down in December when it was obvious that the Japanese weren’t coming back. Our house had been looted and our bedspring stolen. I remember William laced leather strips across the bed frame and we put those thin cotton Chinese quilts on it. It wasn’t very comfortable, but we managed.”
The Papes spent another five years in China: Dorothy working in the church and William as chaplain with the American military. Dorothy also gave birth to their first daughter, Janet.
In 1946, the family went back to England, but not for long. The mission’s doctors thought a few months in Canada would do all of them good as food was still rationed in England.
They ended up in Stouffville, Ont., for more than a year and their second daughter, Jill, was born in 1949. The couple’s plans to go back to China were dashed when they learned that more than 1,000 missionaries were being forced out as the Communist regime took hold.
“So we took a Presbyterian Church in Grand Falls, Newfoundland, ” Dorothy said. “We had to become landed immigrants to work in Canada, so that’s when we became Canadians.”
But, again, they were not to stay for long. In 1951, Japan called.
Again, they studied the language and Dorothy taught English at two Japanese universities while William taught in a seminary. He later started a church for Chinese who had fled to Japan after the Communist takeover. “My husband is a born teacher,” she said proudly.
When Jill, the youngest, graduated high school, the family returned to Canada and settled in St. Catharines where Calvary Church — the church that had supported them all their time in Japan — was located. William served as The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM) representative for the northeastern United States and Canada.
Then, William, still in touch with his contacts in the Christian Military Fellowship, was invited to speak in Germany. He visited a Bible school there and the result: Dorothy and William arrived in Brake, Germany, in 1969 and spent the next 23 years there teaching.
In 1992, it was back to St. Catharines. William was 80. At that time, he received an honorary doctorate from Houghton College in New York state — where the girls received their college education — for getting the Japanese and Koreans together while he was working in Japan.
That wasn’t the only time he brought dissident groups together. While in Germany, he had gone to Yugoslavia to speak in one of the many independent churches. Eventually, he spoke in all 10 and had them working as one.
“I wrote two books to bring them together,” he said, a twinkle of satisfaction in his eye.
Indeed, both Dorothy and William are writers. Each has published seven books and collaborated on another. “My most famous book is In Search of God’s Ideal Woman, published by InterVarsity Press,” Dorothy said. “It was translated into several languages.”
William has also had his writings translated and broadcast all over Russia. Until a year ago, when he was 96, he was still writing and broadcasting to Christians in that country.
In St. Catharines, they lived on Vine Street for some years and then moved to several seniors residences before settling at Tufford Manor.
After nearly two years there, William began to need more care and the only vacancy was at Linhaven on Ontario Street. The couple was separated on July 4. Dorothy, 95, visited William six days a week for four months until early November, when a room became vacant at Tufford Manor in the long-term care section.
Now, they may not be living in the same room, but they are in the same building.
And that brings us to this week. Bill celebrated his 98th birthday on Tuesday and the couple’s wish of having a bed for two last nights will be realized.
Thanks to Niagara Classic Cars, Cabs, Limousines and Coaches, the couple will be whisked away to the Hilton Niagara Falls Fallsview where they’ll have a two-room suite for two nights courtesy of John-Paul Mannella, director of front-office operations.
Personal support worker Rose Costen will be on hand for the entire time to help Dorothy, who uses a walker, and William, who uses a wheelchair. Costen’s services were arranged by Glenis Fothergill of Bayshore Home Health in St. Catharines. Bayshore is also picking up any incidental costs.
About the trip: “We’re looking forward to it,” William said. “I miss the closeness we used to have. I miss the time at night with my wife when we share a lot of little secrets and discussions we don’t have during the day.”
As our interview ended, William said, “I have a real longing for heaven. I’m ready.”
I asked him if he’d want to leave Dorothy. “I’m ready, too,” she said, and they both looked at me with smiles on their faces. I hope they have a good two days together … and then eternity.
Pretty amzing story, eh. Happy Valentine’s Day to my grandparents…the article calls them Dorothy and William, but I’ve always known them as NanNan and Grandpa. Here’s a layout I did to celebrate their relationship.