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Love flourishes in care

Romance was the one thing Amy Larson didn't expect as she changed into her scrubs for a shift at St. Francis Nursing Home on Feb. 18. But that's exactly what she got. Halfway through her Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College nursing assistant cl...

Romance was the one thing Amy Larson didn't expect as she changed into her scrubs for a shift at St. Francis Nursing Home on Feb. 18.

But that's exactly what she got. Halfway through her Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College nursing assistant class that night, her boyfriend and fellow classmate, Garrett Torgerson, proposed marriage with the help of St. Francis resident Joyce McKaige.

Torgerson and Larson worked closely with McKaige throughout their month-long class, which trains students as nursing assistants while working with residents at the nursing home. Both Torgerson and Larson bonded with McKaige during that time, and Torgerson wanted to include her in the proposal he'd planned just that day, he said.

Their bond formed through a connection to Denfeld High School, which McKaige attended in the 1940s and where the young couple are seniors, McKaige said.

"They took care of me," she said.

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That afternoon , a nurse told McKaige that a "tall, dark handsome man" wanted to make a proposal in her room, and McKaige immediately knew it was Torgerson and Larson, she said.

"I said 'I bet it's for Amy,'" she said.

Torgerson hid a card for Larson in McKaige's room, where his girlfriend found it when she went to work with the resident later that night.

The card held the proposal and ring.

Outside it said "I love you so much." Inside, it said "Amy will you marry me," Torgerson said.

He'd planned the proposal for 8 p.m., shortly before the end of class, but the nurses couldn't wait. He proposed at about 5:30, he said.

"All the nurses came to my room and were all waiting," McKaige said. "When Amy came to my room, they said 'look on the table.'"

Larson thought Torgerson was acting strange and wondered why everyone was crowding around McKaige's room. She was surprised when she learned the answer. She knew Torgerson was buying her a ring, but she thought it would be a promise ring, not an engagement ring, she said.

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Torgerson held McKaige's hand as he waited for Larson to read his proposal. He didn't let go until he put the ring on Larson's finger, McKaige said.

At the nurses' beckoning, Larson looked on the table, found the card, read the proposal, pulled out the ring and started crying. She asked Torgerson if his mother knew about the proposal. Then he came up to her and asked her to marry him, McKaige said.

"I said, 'well answer him' -- say yes," she said. "And she did. Her face was beat red."

Larson was happy Torgerson included McKaige in the proposal. The couple aren't making wedding plans until they settle down at college in Eau Claire, but one thing their sure of: McKaige will attend.

"It was adorable," she said. "I had no idea."

They invited her to the wedding right then and there.

"I was surprised and proud to think that young people would take a fancy to me," McKaige said. "I'm looking forward to going to the wedding. I feel like I've known them for a long while, and I just met them."

Anna Kurth covers education. Call her at (715) 395-5019 or e-mail akurth@superiortelegram.com

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