Really, they only had to take care of a few final details - like falling in love and getting married.

Betty and Wayne already had the same last name and when they met - over breakfast in the cafeteria of the Crossland Health Care Center - folks were already willing to accept them as spouses.Betty said, "The first day I was there Chef Renate wheeled me to Wayne's table and jokingly said, `Mr. Williams, this is Mrs. Williams. She couldn't be your wife, could she?' "

Betty said Wayne answered, "No, but perhaps we could do something about it."

They did. They were married Sept. 24 after a courtship born out of tragedy and suffering.

Both are widowed. Both were in the convalescent center recovering from painful health problems. On their first date, both struggled along with walkers. Wayne was still in his stocking feet because he didn't have his orthopedic shoes yet.

Betty is 66. Wayne is 52. Betty was in the center because she misjudged the distance to the ground when she jumped from a tree she was pruning. She was hospitalized and later operated on to repair the ripped tendons, cartilage, ligaments and muscles she damaged in the fall.

When her children learned she needed extensive physical therapy, her son-in-law found Crossland Health Care Center.

Wayne suffers from severe diabetes and arthritis. He has had 15 operations through his life. News of a 16th - a total hip replacement - didn't daunt him.

"I decided to just go ahead with the surgery so I could get on with my life," said the father of five.

Wayne's daughter checked out several care centers, then chose Crossland for her father's inpatient physical therapy.

Neither Wayne nor Betty was thinking of romance when they went to the convalescent center.

A mother of three, Betty has spent most of her adult years alone. "My (deceased) husband spent 13 of the 17 years we were married in the hospital. I had to plan for my own future."

To do that, she went back to college when she was 60. A licensed real estate broker, Betty got three degrees - in business management, accounting, and credit and finance - "in case the real estate business went sour."

Wayne's health problems forced him into early retirement from the Newspaper Agency Corp. To keep busy, he went into the berry business.

He has just completed his first recipe book titled, "The Berry Man's Favorite Recipes" - a collection of 300 recipes.

Wayne believes meeting Betty was in the stars. Both love to travel and camp.

Although Betty jokingly calls herself a "baby-snatcher," she says she is a very young 66. "Last year I did a 3,800-mile trek by myself in my motor home." She also took her motor scooter and traveled to places she could not take the oversized motor home.

The newlyweds' future plans include expanding the berry business and travel. "We plan to take the motor home and travel three months out of the year," said Betty.

"I am happy for them," said Wayne's mother. "If they can have some happy years together, then I think that's great."

"Betty's and Wayne's romance has been good for the morale of the patients," said Lorriane Klatt, public relations director for Crossland Health Care Center. "We deal mostly with the twilight years - we deal with a lot of death. Betty and Wayne's romance proves that this time of life (retirement) can be a new beginning to life and not necessarily the end."