BAKERSFIELD,Calif. — Albert and Joyce Vaughn have been together since they were 19-and-21 years-old. This week they celebrated their 53rd wedding anniversary.
“We are only whole when we are together and it's been this way for most of our lives,” said Joyce.
It’s a milestone that at one point they didn't think they would reach.
In March the couple both tested positive for COVID-19 and for the first time, they were unable to help each other. Joyce was hospitalized for nine days at Mercy Hospital Southwest.
Albert was hospitalized for 66 days. He spent a great deal of time at Adventist Hospital with nurses tending to him around the clock. He says the staff are angels.
“I just have an overwhelming thank you for their care and concern [for me]”, said Albert.
Before being diagnosed with COVID-19, Albert was healthy. He had just finished a marathon in L.A.before becoming sick.
He became so ill he had to be placed on a ventilator for 31 days and all of his organs starting to fail.
Despite it all, he says his family and Joyce were his motivation to keep fighting.
“Many people were caring and praying for me and I have a lot more appreciation of life,” Albert said.
The couple says they’ll never forget speaking once Albert was taken off the ventilator.
“I called him on Facetime and I said 'honey I just called to say I love you,'” shared Joyce. Albert then greeted her singing.
Due to the pandemic, Joyce was only able to receive daily updates over the phone from staff.
So to keep him going, they placed these posters of friends and family in his room to help him finish this marathon.
Once Albert was able to walk into his home - there was overwhelming support from loved ones filling their yard.
“Every bit of the lawn was covered with hearts with prayers,” Joyce said. “[Some] from different people that we knew and some we didn't know.”