Very few hurdles can stand in the way of true love. And Mickey Carkeek refuses to let even some of the most insurmountable hurdles get in his way.
Mickey lives in Ōtaki, New Zealand, and his wife, whom he refers to as his “Buttercups,” lives 20.1 kilometers (12 and a half miles) away at a rest home in Levin. Mickey isn’t able to drive to see her, but he still insists on visiting her, usually five days a week.
“I’m going to meet my Buttercups,” Mickey tells a news crew. “She’s waiting up there for me with bated breath.”
So Mickey hitchhikes. He dresses up in a full suit and tie to show drivers he’s not just some bum on the street. He brings a briefcase along with him and holds a simple sign that reads, “Levin. Please.”
Inevitably, a driver will stop and pick him up so he can spend the morning visiting with his elderly wife, who has dementia. He plays songs for her in an attempt to bring back a small piece of the spirited younger woman she used to be.
“If I don’t see her I don’t function very well. It hurts me,” says Mickey. “I’ve got to see her, because how she treated me. And I need to reciprocate the same way that she’s treated me. I’ve got to show the same respect.”
After a morning with his sweetheart, Mickey must leave her behind and return to the streets to ensure he gets a ride home. His wife never wants him to leave, but he must. He stands out near the road in his suit again, this time with a sign that reads, “Ōtaki. Please.”
Recently, Mickey’s touching story has made it to social media. And it’s a good thing, too, because the attention has helped Mickey get his daily rides. It’s true love that keeps this couple together, but it couldn’t be managed without the help of local drivers.
“I call them my angels,” says Mickey. “I say ‘Thank you, you’re just another angel that’s picked me up.’ They’re really, really good.”
Check out the video below to see this devoted elderly man’s interview with the news crew that drove him to his destination one day.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?