Old photo of couple side-by-side with new photo

In the spring 2020 issue of the magazine, we asked readers to share stories related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We were thrilled to hear from readers, and we were especially taken by this response — a love story by Don Becher, B.A. 1975. 

I have spent the last couple months separated from my wife while nannying my granddaughter. This had us recalling our college years of separation. 

We met in high school in 1971 when we were on a quiz bowl team. We got to know each other better when we were in musicals — she, a pianist; I, an actor/singer. A high school teacher thought our names were cute — Don and Donna. I first asked her out when she was 15 and I was 17. 

We both were from Catholic blue-collar families. Mine expected me to go to college; hers wondered why a girl would. I went to college in Washington, D.C.; she attended college in our home state of Indiana. While in school, we communicated as often as possible via letters and budget-busting long distance phone calls. We married after college and raised two sons in the Cincinnati area. In our retirement years, we moved to Charleston, W.Va. 

I had planned a 10-day trip to visit my son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter in Missoula, Mont., beginning on March 15. As the date approached, COVID-19 had just begun spreading in the large coastal megalopolises. I contemplated cancelling the visit, but my son, who almost never asks for help, asked if I would consider still coming to help with my granddaughter, whose daycare shut down. He works for a hospital system and was working long, hectic days from home. His wife, who is expecting, had also begun working from home. I readily agreed to be of use. 

Many years ago, when I lamented to my mother how I missed my Donna, she told me about my father’s absence for three years during World War II. “You get through it — love survives.” They say this is a war against a virus and I suppose I have been called up from the parenting reserves (as have other grandfathers I know) to make this small sacrifice. And finding yet again that love endures.