Linden couple celebrates 60 years together

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LINDEN, NJ — Rosa and Ramiro Rodriguez, of Linden, have been married for 60 years.

While Rosa, at 81, is still strong, Ramiro’s health is failing. Fortunately, thanks to the states’ Medicaid programs such as New Jersey’s Personal Assistance Service Program, Ramiro can receive hospice care at home, surrounded by his wife and loved ones as he comes to the end of his life.

“He can be home instead of at a hospital,” said their granddaughter, Michele Bisiacchi, who lives nearby, also in Linden. “It’s nice to be able to see him every day.” Rosa and Ramiro are parents to Bisiacchi’s mother, Olga Slonski, who is the main caregiver.

“The aides that come in give her a break,” Bisiacchi said. “It’s extra support and home aides become like family. You trust them with your loved ones. You gain love for them, too.”

The couple met when Rosa was in her late teens. Ramiro was a few years older. They both grew up in the same town in Cuba and they met through friends.

They came to the United States in 1969. “They decided to join my grandfather’s family for a better life,” Bisiacchi shared. “A better future for their children, their grandchildren, their great-grandchildren.”

Originally settling in Hoboken, the new immigrants would try to find any job. “There were many factories in Hudson County,” Bisiacchi said. “(Ramiro) became a cab driver.”

Meanwhile, Rosa became a mother and housewife. She also was a caregiver, watching other people’s children in the community. “They love her,” Bisiacchi said. “My grandma enjoys cooking, going to Atlantic City. She spends a lot of time with her friends. Kind of old school.”

Bisiacchi said she feels fortunate to be around her grandparents all the time, enjoying her Cuban culture. She was the first grandchild born in America and appreciates learning about stories from Cuba. She traveled to Cuba with her grandmother. She said she wanted to really see where they were from.

“They raised me, speaking the Spanish they know,” Bisiacchi said. “My grandfather is very loving. I would love to watch ‘Three’s Company’ with him.”

She also likes listening to their stories and going through their photo albums. “I just turned 40,” Bisiacchi said. “Every birthday, Grandma tells me about the day I was born. She ran around Willow Street (in Hoboken) saying, ‘I’m a grandmother!’”

Bisiacchi said the secret to their 60-year marriage is that they never gave up on each other. “They overcame a lot coming to this country, leaving everything behind, working out through the hardships, trying to stay positive and enjoying those moments together,” she said, adding, “I’m sure they argue like any other couple.”

Rosa and Ramiro said they are looking forward to spending Valentine’s Day together. Bisiacchi says they will probably watch movies and television. “My mom will do something cute for them. Make a cake,” she said.

With Ramiro’s health deteriorating in the last couple months, Bisiacchi said, “He wants to die at home. He has his cable, his TV. He’s able to communicate. They laugh together. He’s comfortable at home. We’re enjoying these moments. He’s not going to be by himself. Great-grandchildren are running around.”

Photos Courtesy of Michele Bisiacchi