LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – A Midstate couple is taking “in sickness and in health” literally.
They’re both in their 60s and have been together for more than two decades, but an unexpected event is changing their perspective on life.
Ira and Shirley Ann Bostic’s love story started at the former Anderson Pretzel Factory in New Holland.
“He asked me out every day at work because I worked first shift and he worked second,” Shirley said.
It took some time for Shirley to go out with Ira because she just ended an abusive relationship. Ira kept on asking, and eventually the two started dating.
They’ve been together for 22 years.
Earlier this year, Ira had a massive heart attack. Paramedics wheeled him out of his Lancaster home and rushed him to the hospital.
“They said I must have died three times, and they brought me back,” Ira said.
“They had me call the immediate family also the night he was admitted. They didn’t think he was going to make it,” Shirley said
Ira survived but needed open-heart surgery. Before he was taken in, doctors asked Shirley if she wanted to tell Ira anything. She told him to get his stuff together because Bear, the couple’s dog, and Shirley needed him. Shirley believes that worked because he came around.
The couple wanted to face the challenge together in a way they never felt was important before, so Ira proposed to Shirley. She said yes.
Ira couldn’t go to the courthouse since he was in the intensive care unit and Lancaster County doesn’t go out of office for marriage licenses so the Clerk of Courts in Dauphin County suggested calling Schuylkill County.
“We got her on speaker phone with Ira and Shirley. She took the information over the phone, prepared everything, and then Teresa drove down from Pine Grove,” Resident Chaplain Tim Patterson said.
“He couldn’t move from here up. He could move his head, but that was it,” Shirley said.
“Yeah, they said I had to lay in the bed flat on my back, so that’s why we got married. You’ll see I have a nice little hat on and a bow tie, a black bow tie,” Ira added.
The Bostics got married in the intensive care unit at Lancaster General Hospital the day before Ira’s surgery. They had originally planned on getting married in the chapel, but Ira had to have his operation earlier than expected.
About two dozen people were in the room including Ira’s son, the best man. He flew in all the way from Utah for the big day.
“I was glad to see him that night. I was scared, and he came in the door and said, ‘I heard you needed a best man,’ and I was so happy,” Ira said.
“That was the most people I’ve ever seen in an ICU,” Patterson said.
The Bostics picked a wedding meal of steak, potatoes, and salad from the hospital and even had a small wedding cake.
“It’s a very unusual place to conduct a wedding,” Patterson said. “It doesn’t matter where it’s performed. When two people are in love like Ira and Shirley, God makes the ground holy.”
The couple credits their love and Bear, their Bulldog mix, with helping Ira recover.
“He and daddy go for walks when he’s not at rehab twice a day too. They walk about a mile a day,” Shirley said.
“Yeah, he’s my exercise equipment,” Ira added.
The couple is moving forward in life together with Bear at their side.
“We have a Queen-sized bed, and it’s just enough room for the three of us,” Shirley said.
“We’re here. We’re together now. We’re staying together,” Ira said.
Ira and Shirley are going to the Poconos in June for their honeymoon with Bear and a message for those looking for love.
“Love can conquer all,” Shirley said.
“Yes, it can,” Ira said. “Never give up on love. It will find you eventually.”