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Louise Picco-Branney and Edward Branney. Photo courtesy of Mary Lehman

Valentines Day is a time when people show feelings of love, affection and friendship. The story you are about to read is the real reason this romantic celebration is so touching to so many of us. We hope you enjoy reading this letter sent by one of our members.

To whom it may concern at AARP:  I am writing to tell you about my wife of 13 years, Louise Picco-Branney. This is a second marriage for both of us. I am in my early 80s, and my "sweetie" as I like to call my wife, is my junior by 8 years. A former high school English teacher for 16 years, my sweetie has been an advocate for children. Her deep passion is to educate children the art of pen to paper by well renowned authors. Oh boy, she knows more about where to place a comma, a subordinate clause, subordinate conjunction, or easily locates a run on sentence. This is but one high side of my DEAR Wife that brought her to utilizing her love for literature in her retirement years. She started to teach adults at a homeless shelter in downtown Phoenix, AZ to enable her class to obtain their GEDs. She is always so proud to see a student?s eyes light up, when they realize someone has taken an interest in their life with gusto for them to succeed! Louise did not stop there. Her strong will to help others grow, learn and feel valued, never stopped. She was sad to hear the homeless shelter had to close its doors. A grant ran out and there were no other funds to continue the well needed, well used program. That was not going to stop my wife from charging forward to spread her love for helping others. She started working through her church's program for members who were experiencing the hardships of unemployment. She used her skills to help energize the folks with a cover letter and resume writing class. What a thrill it was to her when a student called or came back to say, Mrs. Picco-Branney I am employed. I passed the interview process. You made that happen. My wife, as modest as she always is, would say, "Oh no. I may have been a part of you getting an interview, but it is you who succeeded at winning at the interview." Being a teacher through the church program, became another stepping stone to more volunteer work. My wife Louise became a part of an organizational program called Vista. Her role was helping more people in her community write cover letters and resumes. My sweetie keeps them motivated when they feel down and unwanted. She makes them feel valued and encouraged to propel forward. This contribution was not enough. Louise cannot stand seeing the homeless left alone and without human kindness. She always has a pocket of Subway gift cards loaded for a meal, and the few times she runs out of eatery certificates, she provides money. She takes the time to look them in the eye, asking them their name and shakes their hands. She always says..."People are either afraid, or feel they are not safe to shake their hand." Her motto: Everyone needs compassion and human kindness, especially those who have little to nothing and feel depressed and forgotten. My wife is a humble woman who is not capable of passing, without stopping when she sees someone in need of education or nutrition. She still amazes me. One day in particular I learned of her kindness through my stepdaughter Mary. On the way home from my wife's stage 4 cancer treatment, her daughter needed to refuel. At the gas station, my wife went inside and purchased some of her famous eatery certificates. She had spotted a homeless woman sitting outside the station. My stepdaughter overheard her mother, "Please accept these certificates to eat. In addition, here is a bus pass to go to a shelter and details how you can further your education, as well as be in a safe environment." Can you believe it? My wife, my sweetie, is very ill, and she continues time and again to share her giant heart to care for others. She sees everyone the same. There is no judgment of religion or race or covering on the book. I always thought her non-judgment of a book by its cover to be a neat thing about her, given her English background and love of books. Facing a serious illness or disease typically becomes a persons whole world. Instead, my sweetie pushes through with bravery and continues to tirelessly volunteer on so many levels for the goodness of mankind. The AARP organization always has articles about The Kind People Of Our Planet. I wanted to tell you about the love of my life, and her selfless beat she walks daily without matter of her own difficult challenges.

One very proud husband, Edward H. Branney Phoenix, AZ

The AARP Arizona State Office team wishes a Happy Valentines to everyone, but in particular to Mr. and Mrs. Branney. Thank you for sharing your love story.  We wish you many more years of love together. Your story is human kindness at its best.

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