The inspiring image of an elderly widower dining alongside a framed photo of his beloved late wife captured hearts worldwide when it was posted on the internet. It was love at first sight for now 87-year-old John Silva and wife Hilda when they first met as teenagers at a ballpark in New Bedford, Mass.
In a scene right out of a romantic comedy, a teammate threw John the ball but he muffed the easy catch. Fate kindly rolled it to the feet of Hilda. He doffed his cap to her. She blew him a kiss. Sadly, they lost each other in the teeming crowds.
“In my heart this was the woman I wanted to marry but I had no idea who she was,” John told The ENQUIRER. “When people would ask me if I had a girlfriend, tears would come to my eyes because I did – I just didn’t know where to find her again.” It would be a decade until they met again in 1953.
“Ten years later my father asked me to deliver three sacks of potatoes to a house. Hilda answered the door. It was like a dream I didn’t want to end. The first thing I asked her was, ‘Are you married?’ She said no. Then I asked, ‘Have you got a boyfriend?’ She said no again.”
In a strange twist of fate, John knew her father. Hilda’s dad was his own barber and John had told him all about his lost “dream girl!” “Within a minute I stopped calling him Mr. Almeida and began calling him Dad.
“I asked permission to kiss her and he approved. She turned to me and said, ‘What are you waiting for?’” That first kiss sealed an everlasting bond and 55 years of wedded bliss until her tragic passing in 2009.
As she lay dying, John held her gently, softly singing “their song” – Frank Sinatra’s “It Had To Be You.” “She put her head back and that was it,” he said.
Even now, John’s passion still burns bright. “I have a picture of her on her pillow and one of me on mine so we’re always next to each other. I fall asleep hugging her photo,” he smiled, clutching her photograph.
“I tell her exactly how much I loved her every day.”