(Scroll to the bottom of the story for updates)
A photograph showing a man teaching his girlfriend how to read the alphabet has gone viral this week, with many touting the image as a shining symbol of love and dedication.
Reddit user sho3 posted the heartwarming image on the social news site on Thursday, with the caption: "I was sitting next to this couple at Starbucks this morning, this man John was teaching Linda the alphabet. He told us that she lost her memory and was re-learning how to read. Patience, love, and understanding at it's finest." The photograph has since been viewed more than 1.4 million times.
Though a lot is as yet unknown about the loving couple (attempts to contact Redditor sho3 have been unsuccessful so far), many users on Reddit and Imgur, where the photo was uploaded, said that the picture has deeply moved them.
"This, people, is true love," Imgur user TheMan87 wrote.
"It's excellent that her husband has the patience to work on this with her," said Reddit user coolhandlucas, who identified himself as a speech-language pathologist, and said that the woman in the photo had perhaps lost the ability to read due to a stroke or dementia.
"I often recommend exercises such as these, but compliance within families varies widely. This is exactly the sort of thing that I'd like to see with a client, and it's heartwarming to see such a successful partnership," he added.
Last month, another photograph of a loving couple went viral on the Interwebs. Pictures of a couple who had been together for 60 years were also viewed more than a million times after they were posted on Reddit. One of the photos was of the happy couple on their wedding day, while the other showed the pair sharing a tender moment decades later after the husband had been hospitalized.
"They were in the deepest kind of love," 23-year-old Colleen Muldoon, the couple's granddaughter, told The Huffington Post in December.
UPDATE: The photographer who captured the stunning shot of John and Linda, Matthew Ballestero, sent The Huffington Post an email this weekend.
"So glad that this story moved you enough to write an article on it!" Ballestero wrote. "Needless to say, it was a beautiful moment for all three of us (my two friends and I) to witness."
Interestingly, Ballestero works at Starbucks, but not the location where he saw Linda and John reading together. Previously that morning, he and his friends Alexandra and Stephanie had gone to the gym and wanted to catch up over coffee.
After their visit, Ballestero posted the following to Facebook:
Meet Linda and John. As my friends Alexandra, Stephanie and I were sitting at Starbucks, we noticed this elderly couple. John put flashcards in front of Linda trying to help her remember what she had forgotten. My friends and I were overwhelmed by the love that these two had for each other and I knew I wanted to let them know how much of an inspiration and a perfect example of true love they were to me.
John got up to use the restroom before they left and Linda kept on her studying at the table. "A.. B... C... D... E... F... G..." Linda recited the first 19 letters of the Alphabet perfectly... "Q... R... S... " and as she paused to think of that next letter I saw my opportunity. "T!" I shouted. She looked up at me with the biggest smile and says... "T! You are so sweet! I love you! You see, I've lost my memory and I'm trying to get it back!"
We told her how great she was doing and as john returned we continued into introductions. Right before they left, Linda exclaimed, "I love you. I just love you all! God Bless You!" This seemingly small moment is easily one I will remember forever- John's unwavering love, patience and understanding for the woman he chose to give his life to.
Linda's endless positive attitude, eagerness to (re)learn and mostly her uninhibited joy in expressing love to other. You may be losing your memory, Linda, but the love that you and John have for each other will never be lost. Thank you for your beautiful example, Linda and John! ♥ -Matthew Ballestero
A couple of employees at the Starbucks location responded to the Facebook post.
"They are regulars at my Starbucks. They were dating until she had a stroke. Now he takes her out during the day and has been helping her relearn all her skills. They are truly amazing people," Marissa Gaschen said.
Another, Ashley Cole, wrote:
I was just going to say, we see these two everyday. We all thought they were married and when john said he was her care giver it made them that much more special. Everyday she says 'I love you!' Through the intercom and at the window. And everyday we tell her we love her. So cute.
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