Grandparents celebrate 63 years of marriage with the sweetest photoshoot

By Litaletu Zidepa
03 October 2016

Six decades and counting.

Texas couple Wanda and Joe Johnson celebrated their 63rd anniversary with a stunning photoshoot titled ‘Love, The Nelsons’. It was shot by their photographer granddaughter Shalyn Nelson.

A photo posted by Shalyn Nelson (@shalynnelson) on

“I knew I wanted to create something special, and celebrate what true love was to me. And that for me, was my grandparents,” Shalyn told BuzzFeed.

"Dear Shalyn, I sit here on Sunday morning, the 15th of February, reading your tribute to your grandparents through a veil of tears. They are not tears of grief, and yet there is a small amount of "potential" grief present. They are not tears of joy, and our story is certainly not devoid of joy. I think they are just tears, tears of living, tears of remembering a life that, while still active, is yet seeing the future rush at us with increasing velocity, seeing clearly the landscape that has passed us and knowing that this journey will have an end. I have a story to tell you..." My inbox is currently my happy place. I am in awe of the hearts that have reached out to me so far and can't grasp that this is finally happening. There is a constant lump in my throat and it being there just puts that much more affirmation in my heart that #lovethenelsonsproject is where God wants me to be. If you know anyone with a love story that needs to be shared for my #oldlovebook PLEASE e-mail me at I will only be accepting them until March 1st so I can make travel plans for the rest of the year. Please feel free to share this project with your friends and family. I look forward to hearing from you!!!! As cliche' and corny as this sounds, the love, support and encouragement y'all have shown me has blown me a away. I really can't thank you enough!!! P.s.) If I haven't responded yet, don't worry, I will be in touch soon!

A photo posted by Shalyn Nelson (@shalynnelson) on
“[My Mamaw] loved every minute. It was so cute to see how excited she was to get all dolled up. I went to Macy’s to try to find my Mamaw a dress, and ended up stuffing the top with my coat at the time to make sure there was enough room in the dress for her.”

A photo posted by Shalyn Nelson (@shalynnelson) on

The heart-warming photography project pays tribute to people who have found ‘eternal’ love much like her grandparents, ‘old love’ termed Shalyn.

A photo posted by Shalyn Nelson (@shalynnelson) on

“I’m ready to show lovers around the world that true love still exists,” she said. “There are so many love stories that we don’t know of out there waiting to be shared.”

The now 86-year-old Joe met his Wanda (83) in 1950 walking along the street. He decided to pull over and asked her on a date and like they all say the rest is history. The two ended up engaged on December 28, 1950 and married two years later. Part of the shoot included Shayln’s 'Mamaw' and 'Papaw' writing love letters to each other and reading them aloud to one another.

"Dearest Wanda, it’s been a long time since I have written you a letter. I think it was when I was working in Canada, that I wrote you last. Anyway, I still love you just as much, probably more. The years have gone by fast. One morning you just wake up and you are OLD. Anyway, I wouldn’t trade them for all the gold in Alaska. We had 3 great kids and lots of fun raising them. Most of the time. We carried them to movies, playgrounds, swimming, ballgames, parties, etc. I wish that we could bring back some of those days. Now they have kids of their own which we have watched them grow, and some now with kids of their own. We must be real old. The days we had at the Freez-It at Fairfield and The Dixie Queen at Jewett and built the Rocket Drive-In with a 30’ rocket ship on the roof, those were the very hard years with lots of hard work and no vacations. I still worked my engineering job in Houston thru the week, and weekends at the drive-in businesses. Later, we got smart and got out of the drive in business. Later I retired, and we moved back to Jewett. We got into the ranching business. We made a lake and called it Hidden Lake Ranch. Found out that was a lot of hard work too. Now that we are in our Golden years, I think that we have turned to rust with all the Dr.’s we see. Anyway, I will close this letter to you saying I love you as much today as the day I married you. And just think, the license only cost $2.00. The best bargain I ever made. With all my love for you, Joe." Happy 65th Anniversary Mamaw and Papaw! I love you both so so so much! #lifegoals #lovemygrandparents #oldlove #oldlovebook #lovethenelsonsproject

A photo posted by Shalyn Nelson (@shalynnelson) on

In his letter Joe wrote about the couple’s life together in Texas: “I still love you just as much, probably more. The years have gone by fast. One morning you just wake up and you are,” he penned his love letter, ending it with a reflecting on their wedding day.   “I will close this letter to you saying I love you as much today as the day I married you,” “And just think, the license only cost $2.00. The best bargain I ever made. With all my love for you, Joe.”

A photo posted by Shalyn Nelson (@shalynnelson) on

Their pictures have been liked more than 4 000 times on Shalyn’s Instagram page, and people from all walks of life commented and shared their love on the loving couple’s photoshoot.

"Walking through life together... But the trail is getting short." - My Papaw, Joe R. Johnson I've been quiet around here lately. There are many reasons, but most importantly, I've been a ball of stress and nerves because my Papaw went back into the hospital last week. On Thursday, we were told that he wouldn't make it through the night. Oddly enough, I got this news right after I watched Miracles in Heaven. (You should watch it if you haven't!) My Mom tried to prep me for the inevitable because he's been in and out of the hospital a lot these past few months and hasn't got any better. I decided to be stubborn, naturally, and forced myself to stay positive and hopeful through many tears that took over my face when she told me things weren't looking good. I got off the phone and I went to my knees and prayed hard for God to give my Papaw strength more than I think I ever have before. And here we are, a week later, and the man is still fighting. The Dr.'s performed a heart ablation surgery on Friday that they didn't think he would be strong enough to make it through. But he did. He has fluid on his lungs and his kidneys are slowly starting to fail because of all the medications, but he's still fighting. Because he's a bad ass. As you know, this man means the world to me. So when I saw that @buzzfeed featured my grandparents today on their blog... My heart swelled. The timing could not be more perfect. It's such a beautiful reminder to us all. Because when our lives want to fail us... in the end, the only thing that matters and remains is love. Head on over to check it out. Link is in my profile. And please keep my grandparents in your prayers if you can. My Mamaw hasn't left his side. #lovethenelsonsproject #oldlovebook #ohwowyes

A photo posted by Shalyn Nelson (@shalynnelson) on

“This right here is my heart. This right here is the most important thing I have ever been a part of and put together,” said the photographer. “They are without a doubt the best people I know. I call them my heroes.”

A photo posted by Shalyn Nelson (@shalynnelson) on

Sources: BuzzFeed, MailOnline

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