Lady Marries the Fancy of Her Lifestyles 43 Years After Her Mother Compelled Her to Pause Interracial Relationship

Occasionally happy endings earn even happier.

Final 300 and sixty five days, PEOPLE featured the narrative of a girl who reconnected along with her long-lost take care of after 42 years aside. And upright just a few months previously, the couple — Stephen Watts and Jeanne Watts (beforehand Gustavson) — bought married!

“When he proposed, I talked about, ‘A thousand instances yes!'” Jeanne, now 69, tells PEOPLE for the Valentine’s Day special on this week’s field. “We’re looking out to label up for 42 lost years.”

Jeanne and Stephen first met in 1971, when she modified into a freshman and he modified into a senior at Chicago’s Loyola College.

“He modified into my first take care of. He modified into my appropriate take care of,” Jeanne talked about in final 300 and sixty five days’s Fancy field.

But Jeanne’s mom strongly objected to the connection due to the she did no longer want her White daughter seeing a Dusky man.

“She upright went ballistic,” Jeanne talked about. “She did no longer want this relationship to happen in any appreciate.”

Stephen and Jeanne Watts at their wedding of their backyard on Oct. 15, 2022.
Molly J. Smith Pictures

Serene, the pair secretly dated for seven years. But after Jeanne graduated nursing college and landed a job that required a long shuttle and slack shifts, she faced difficulties seeing Stephen, who did no longer obtain a car.

“I modified into entirely overwhelmed by the entirety,” Jeanne talked about. “The household field modified into persistently weighing on me due to the it fractured the connection between my mom and myself with no raze in sight. She modified into persistently my mom and I persistently cherished her, but it indubitably affected our relationship for the the relaxation of my lifestyles.”

The couple talked about marriage, but Jeanne modified into timid of taking that subsequent step.

“I’d’ve lost my complete household,” she talked about.

Standing at the nurse’s space in the middle of her shift one night, Jeanne told him over the cell phone, “I genuinely admire you, but I upright can’t pause this.”

Stephen Watts and Jeanne Gustavson in 1972.

Overwhelmed by the knowledge, Stephen modified into speechless. It modified into an abrupt ending that will per chance well presumably haunt Jeanne for future years.

“I regretted it then, I regretted the methodology I did it, but I did it,” talked about Jeanne.

They would utilize the subsequent four a long time main separate lives and no longer talking to every numerous.

Slice to 2021, when Jeanne modified into a divorced retiree whose mom modified into no longer alive. She began having a sight for Stephen from her dwelling in Cedar Mill, Oregon, but she couldn’t uncover him on social media.

“The whole lot came up a boring pause when I attempted to sight him,” she talked about. “There modified into nearly about no trace of him.”

In April 2021, Jeanne came throughout a mailing address for his niece and wrote her a letter.

“She told me he modified into in a nursing dwelling,” Jeanne talked about, “and that’s the reason one thing I had never in a million years imagined.”

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In May per chance per chance presumably additionally 2021, she called the nursing dwelling and requested for Stephen. A workers member outlined that patients did no longer maintain bedside phones. She wrote him a letter, but there modified into no response. She called again, handiest for a nurse to advise her that he couldn’t talk on the cell phone.

Stephen Watts in the middle of his pass to Jeanne Gustavson’s dwelling in 2021.

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In slack June 2021, Jeanne traveled to Chicago to consult with with him in person.

“I desired to clutch: Used to be he okay? Used to be he married? Would he forgive me?” she talked about.

When she walked into the room, Stephen acknowledged her in the present day, talked about her name and began to shout.

“I knew he unruffled cherished me,” she talked about.

On Aug. 8, 2021, he moved into her Oregon dwelling — and he’s been there ever since.

Jeanne and Stephen Watts.
Jaime Valdez/For the Sun-Cases

“She is vivid. She is my coronary heart and soul,” Stephen, now 73, told PEOPLE. “I are eager to live along with her persistently.”

A few months later, he requested her to marry him. The pair talked about “I pause” on Oct. 15, 2022 in entrance of about 65 company at the couple’s dwelling. Their Norfolk terriers, Tushi and Jeffie, were ring bearers.

“We are able to utilize the the relaxation of our lives together making plans,” says the girl who now goes by Jeanne Watts. “I gladly took his final name. I’ve wanted it for an extraordinarily very long time.”

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