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  • Bob Long

Love blossoms for Joe and Lil


They are a vibrant couple. Joe and Lil are aging, but they act forever young. They have no intention of leaving their home of 52 years. It is at the heart of their identity as a couple.


Their modest two-story home sits behind a fence bordered by a hedgerow of Rose of Sharon. Lil notes, with pride, that her auntie gave her the flower 45 years ago. A ring of hostas surrounds their porch. A huge canna lily is off to one side.


Recently, their flat roof has been causing problems, resulting in leaks in three different rooms and significant damage to the interior. Through a referral from their church, NeighborLink Indianapolis has been able to help Joe and Lil with the repair of the roof.


Both are in their 80's, although Joe is quick to point out that Lil is 10 months older. “I hit the lottery when I married an older woman,” he says with a devilish smile.

The couple's gentle banter reflects their mutual affection that stretches back more than 50 years. It was a fortunate stroke of serendipity when they met. Lil was selling Mother's Day flowers, going from business to business. Joe and a friend were having a cold one after work. “In walked Lil. I offered to buy her a drink. She didn't even want a coke,” Joe says. So he won her heart by buying all of her flowers.


“Then she invited me to her home for dinner, and I found out what a good cook she was,” Joe laughs.


Although it appears that Joe is the instigator in their relationship, Lil gets in her share of quips as they discuss their lives together. “He needs to take credit for everything,” she laughs, rolling her eyes. Joe just smiles.


Lil was born in Mississippi, but has lived in Indianapolis since she was two months old. Joe was born in North Carolina and spent time in Washington D.C. where he was a witness to history. In 1963, he was present at the March on Washington when Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have A Dream Speech.”


Joe began his career as a barber, where he developed his own “secret” of customer service that boosted tips from his customers. He spent the bulk of his career in the hospitality industry, and retired from Omni Hilton in 1999.


Lil has made wooden flowers all of her life. It is her passion. However, she says it is becoming difficult to find the materials needed for this craft.


Both Joe and Lil are thankful for reasonably good health. Lil has survived a bout with COVID that put her in the hospital. “I prayed five nights straight for her, every prayer I know,” Joe says.


Although recovered, Lil still has some lingering effects and has made adjustments to dealing with them.


Joe is looking forward to upcoming sinus surgery. “I'll be able to see better, smell better, taste better, and hear better!” he exclaims, noting that Lil “won't be able to stand me!”


It's obvious that this couple has a very positive attitude toward life. Their eyes light up when two of their 45 grandchildren show up at the house after school. This is a house that is truly “home” for Joe and Lil, and open to their extended family. They are content living where they have built their love and their lives together.

Homeowners like Joe and Lil face challenges with upkeep and repairs as they age. There are many others like them in need of assistance. Would you like to lend a helping hand? Check our website for opportunities to jump in.


If your time is limited, you can still help by making a donation to NeighborLink Indianapolis. We do not charge our homeowners for any of the projects or repairs. Your financial support will enable us to serve more homeowners like Joe and Lil.


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