Watch CBS News

Elderly Couple's Instagram Photo Reveals Touching, Bittersweet Love Story

LOS ANGELES ( — A photo of an elderly couple showing a man holding up flashcards led to more than 2 million hits on Instagram and left many wanting to know the story behind the picture.

As CBS2's Stacey Butler reports, the heartwarming story begins with 83-year-old John Allen taking his 70-year-old girlfriend, Linda Alexander, for coffee six days a week where he is teaching her how to read.

The pair, a retired eighth grade teacher and Raytheon manager, met eleven years ago.

"We went to plays, symphonies, movies," recalls Allen.

But five years ago, everything changed.

Bleeding in Alexander's brain led to three surgeries.

When she emerged, Butler reports that she was lightly paralyzed on the right side and had lost her short-term memory and ability to read and speak.

The only phrase she remembered: I love you.

"She sort of coarsely said, 'I love you.' She told that to the nurses. She told that to me. She told that to her parents," he said.

About three weeks ago, Matthew Ballestero, a patron, was watching the couple at a coffee shop and snapped the now-famous picture which he then posted on Instagram. Within the first five hours, the photo got 500,000 views.

"I have no idea why anyone would want to watch me," said Alexander.

But as Ballestero explains, "There was just so much love between these two."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.