Even though Isabel and Gerald Vasquez have been married 30 years, they act like newlyweds. Each week, they walk to town - about four miles round trip - to run errands and buy groceries. And with each footstep and roll of the wheelchair, they hold hands. Other walkers call them cute, and passers-by honk.
For the couple, who have lived in Oakhurst five years, compliments seem to come with the territory. Because their backyard touches Road 426, they hear regularly from drivers traveling that road that they were spotted planting in their garden, or just hanging out in the yard holding hands.
The two just can’t seem to get enough of each other. They work together. They play together. They cook together. If Gerald works in the front yard, Isabel helps when she can. If she can’t, she stays nearby. When she does housework, he helps. Where he goes, she goes, and vice-versa.
And at every opportunity, without a second thought, there’s the hand-holding.
“We’ve done that since we were married,” Isabel said. “Even in the car ... it’s always come naturally for us.”
“I have friends who have tried this with their husbands, but they don’t have husbands like Gerald,” Isabel added. “It’s different for them. We spend time with each other instead of watching TV or spending time on computers. We may watch an hour of TV a day, or may get a photo of our grandson over the Internet, but we don’t Facebook. Mostly, we read together or talk. The bulk of our time is spent with each other ... doing things together.”
Gerald, who has always been a little on the shy side, met Isabel - his neighbor in Orange County - when he was 34 and she was 24. They started talking, and three months later, they married.
At that time, Isabel was able to walk. Now, due to polio, she’s wheelchair-bound. Isabel said that Gerald knew what he was getting into when they married, and it didn’t make a bit of difference.
After annual trips to Yosemite with their - at the time - young children, Adam and Ashley, the Vasquez’s relocated to the Mountain Area for the peace and quiet. Today, they travel to Yosemite, Kings Canyon, or down to Orange County to visit their children and grandson.
Adam has followed his parent’s example, always taking hold of his wife’s hand. And even though Ashley has not yet married, Isabel and Gerald believe she will do the same with her future husband.
On one of their many walks, a homeless man stopped to tell them how “cute” they were. Unexpectedly, he then asked, “what makes you happy?” Without hesitation, Gerald answered simply, “being with each other.”
The homeless man stood and stared for a moment into the eyes of this unassuming couple before responding that he wished he had someone like that in his life.
“We never thought we were doing anything special, but maybe we are,” Isabel reflected. “We’ll be like this until the day we die ... until that day comes when God separates us.”
“People need to put more attention on what their partner needs, to pay more attention to each other,” she continued. “We don’t need TV or computers. Turn them off and just be with each other instead. That’s what we did, and we love each other today more than ever.”