HOLIDAY — Steve Wrubel fixed a light breakfast Tuesday morning and sat down at the dining room table to pay some bills. He blinked hard to make his eyes water.
"I saw better yesterday,'' said Wrubel, 102.
Still, he managed to make out the cable bill — $78.06. Seems like a lot for a man who doesn't watch television. He also paid his car insurance bill — $1,160 for six months coverage on the old Chevy he keeps in the carport. He stopped driving last year, but keeps the car so friends and neighbors can use it to take him shopping and, more important, to visit his beloved Vickie.
Today marks their 82nd wedding anniversary.
Think about that for awhile.
Their longevity and devotion earned recognition from Guinness World Records, although the Wrubels have not yet been able to say "We're No. 1!'' That distinction for years has gone to a Bern, N.C., couple, Herman and Zelmyra Fisher. They celebrated their 86th before Herman died in February at 105.
Guinness has not determined a successor, but it appears to be Marshall and Winnie Kuykendall of New Mexico. They were married on Feb. 14, 1929, seven months before the Wrubels tied the knot in Ubly, Mich.
Steve Wrubel, who worked 35 years for General Motors before retiring to Holiday with Vickie in 1978, doesn't seem all that impressed by records. "It just means we're old,'' he said.
They never had children. "We didn't question that,'' Steve said in an interview when they celebrated their 80th. "God has a plan.''
They lived active, independent lives centered around friends and the Polish-American Club. Then last year, Vickie fell and broke her hip. They celebrated their 81st at the Peninsula Care and Rehabilitation Center in Tarpon Springs. Steve brought her a dozen roses.
A year later, Vickie, 100, remains in the nursing facility. "She'd love to come home,'' Steve said, "but we would have to hire a full-time nurse. I really miss her, but it's easier this way.''
On the days he can't get a friend to drive him, Steve pays $6 one-way for a taxi. "I run up a helluva cab bill,'' he said.
They sit together, hold hands. He can't hear all that she says, "but after this long we don't have any trouble communicating.''
Now that the snowbirds are returning, the Polish-American Club has reopened. Steve's Sunday dinner plans are set and he may find a pinochle game. But Vickie will remain his priority, every day, every week.
She's but a $6 cab ride away.