Every love story has its own unique beginning. For the Platenbergs, it all started off as a friendship in the 1950s in England. Little did they know that 20 years later they would fall in love after reconnecting in Virginia. Ruth and Robert Platenberg, now residents of Waltonwood Ashburn, have been married for 45 years. During their marriage, they lived abroad in Taiwan and the UK before coming home and later retired. Their life was interesting and exciting, making new friends and traveling. Robert is a retired US Air Force officer who dedicated 30 years to serving the country. As a pilot, he still has the uncanny ability to point at the clouds and hear a plane before it comes into view. The couple was living a perfect life together, enjoying every moment of their retirement, but all that changed after Robert was diagnosed with dementia. Despite all the difficulties and changes that come with this disease, Ruth talks about her husband in such a sweet tone it can make anyone’s heart melt. When choosing a senior living community, it was important for Ruth to find a place that offered multiple levels of care. Ruth was thrilled to find a place like Waltonwood Ashburn where she can live independently and still visit her husband in his memory care apartment every day. Today, she shares their inspiring love story and secrets to a long and successful marriage.
“Everything was so perfect; we were having the time of our lives,” said Ruth Platenberg. “At first, Bob started losing words and then recall. Dementia was the diagnosis. We continued life at home for a few more years until we realized we had to make major adjustments. By this time, he could no longer live without help and we needed to find a place for him separately. Looking back, it was hard to imagine things could change one’s life so completely and it was a challenge to accept. It is comforting to know he is getting the best care possible now. These are the times to accept things as they are and be happy and thankful for all the beautiful memories we share.”
During his time in Air Force, Robert held multiple positions, including base and vice wing commander of the largest air force base in England, which was a huge responsibility. He was admired always for his kind and understanding way. Ruth and Robert have always had a lot in common, which is one of the reasons Ruth believes they’ve had a such a successful and long-lasting marriage.
“I think it’s very important to have common bond with your spouse,” said Ruth. “Bob and I have had similar backgrounds and interests, and find our thoughts just run together. We always enjoyed the same things; our home, family, golf, ski holidays and most of all true love, respect, trust and supporting each other’s endeavors.”
Robert Platenberg likes to wear his favorite hat adorned with pins from all the air stations he served. If anyone wants to spark a conversation with him, they can ask about his hat, and he will give them a special story about each of the pins. One of the favorite things Ruth and Robert like to do together is walk through the garden at Waltonwood Ashburn and enjoy the company of his friends.
“Hearing Ruth and Bob share their stories always melts my heart,” said Kate Ritchie, life enrichment manager at Waltonwood Ashburn. “Ruth comes to visit her husband every day, and she always brings her dog Rosie because all of our memory care residents love to interact with her. Any time I speak to Bob, every story he shares includes Ruthie. Their love story is truly inspiring, and we look forward to providing the best possible care support for their entire family.”