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What 'In Sickness and In Health' Really Looks Like

'She'd do the same for me,' says this husband of a 63-year marriage

By Amy Knapp

"For better for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part." These vows are repeated hundreds of times a year, in front of thousands of witnesses, to represent a binding contract between husband and wife. The beauty is when these words ring true — 63 years later.

Frank and Mary Jo Havlak are the focus in a New York Times Op-Doc series by filmmaker Joe Callander. The Havlaks have been married for almost 63 years, but for the last eight, Mary Jo has suffered from Alzheimer's. Her memory of weddings, graduations and holidays is gone, but this has not deterred Frank from holding on to that commitment he made to her all those years ago.

Every day, Frank makes sure to visit Mary Jo and her senior facility. He'll help her with her hair, bring her presents and simply sit with her.

"I see her once a day," Frank says in the film. "And as long as I can do that, I'll do that."


Collander's film isn't about big romantic gestures; it's about what it means to be there for someone day and day out, even when times are tough.

"If you live long enough, everybody goes through something like this," Frank says. "She'd do the same for me."

Watch the video below.

Amy Knapp was formerly the associate digital editor for Next Avenue. She previously was an editor for InnoVision Health Media's consumer publicationNatural Solutions Magazine.   Read More
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