A TEENAGE boy who found love with a gran 53 years his senior has paid tribute to her as they celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary - and vowed to love her until HIS "last breath".
Almeda and Gary Hardwick married in 2015, two weeks after meeting at her son Robert’s funeral.
At the time Gary was 17 and had recently split up with a 77-year-old and Almeda was 71, although they are now 21 and 74.
Four years on the couple are as happy as ever and have posed for a snap on Instagram, sharing a passionate kiss.
Paying tribute to his elderly wife on their anniversary, Gary, from Tennessee, revealed how he loved her "deeper than the ocean".
"I promise you to love you unconditionally and shower you with all the care and concern you desire until my last breath," he gushed.
Writing at the end of October, Gary continued: "Four years ago on this very day, I gave my heart and my soul to the woman who steals it over and over again every day.
"Until the day I met you I never knew that it was possible to love someone so deeply.
"We've been through ups and downs together that we always overcame, looking back, it truly only made us stronger.
"Because of you, I look forward to waking up each morning and working hard so we can achieve our goals and dreams."
He continued: "You make me so proud each and every day and you are truly the most strongest woman I've ever known.
"You motivate me to the fullest. You are absolutely beautiful inside and out. You are not only my wife but also my best friend.
"I prayed to God to make you my wife and today, four years later, I can say God has given me more than what I could have ever prayed for."
He added: "Thank you for turning my life around and changing me into who I am now. I am so grateful for your love every single day. I love you with all my heart Mrs. Hardwick."
The couple, who had sex for the first time on their wedding night, previously described each other as 'wonderful lovers'.
“It was wonderful, beyond my wildest dreams,” revealed Gary previously in a candid interview with Fabulous Digital.
“She really is my dream woman and the physical side of our relationship couldn’t be better.”
Almeda and Gary married in a ceremony which he arranged for just $200 (£137) in six days.
After marrying the pair moved into Almeda’s house with one of her grandsons who is three years older than her new husband.
Four years ago on this very day, I gave my heart and my soul to the woman who steals it over and over again every day.Gary Hardwick
“I wasn’t looking for a young man, but Gary just came along,” said Almeda. “I just knew straight away that he was the one.”
Her happiness at their meeting was in stark contrast to the lonely despair the mother-of-four had endured after being widowed and then losing her eldest son Robert, 45, after a seizure.
“I’d been married to my first husband Donald for 43 years, and so when he died in 2013 after seven months in hospital from complications with diabetes, I found myself on my own,’ said Almeda.
“I’d turn up for work at Walmart in tears and my colleagues would ask me what was wrong. Deep down, I was searching for a soulmate.”
Gary, whose attraction to older women started with a crush on a teacher at the age of eight, said he had also been in turmoil, feeling trapped in an unhappy relationship with his older lover.
“We were always fighting,’ said Gary. “I fell into depression and was looking for a way out.”
That’s when Lisa, his aunt, invited him to join other mourners for her husband Robert’s cremation.
Almeda said: “I’d noticed this young man with a lovely smile during the service and thought, ‘Wow, this is the one.’
“He was on the other side of the church, but I kept looking over at him. It was like a bright light through the grief.
“Then, as I was walking to the door at the end, he came over and passed on his condolences. We didn’t have much time, but it was enough.”
For the next few months, she couldn’t stop thinking about Gary. She didn’t realise was that the feeling was mutual.
“It was an instant thing for me too,” said Gary. “She had the most gorgeous, sparkling blue eyes.”
Soon after, Lisa asked them both along to a family meal at the nearby Chuck E. Cheese’s pizza restaurant.
“He was just as I remembered,” said Almeda. “That smile, those good looks. We were both too nervous to eat, and at one point he fell over his chair.”
But there was still one question Almeda needed to ask.
She recalled: ‘I just came out with it and said to him, ‘Look, I’m 71 and you’re 17. Am I too old for you?’ He squeezed my hand, grinned, and replied: “Age is just a number.”’
That night, after returning to Lisa’s with the others, Gary surprised her with red roses and a bracelet for her birthday which had been a few days before. Then they shared their first tender kiss under the moonlight outside on a bench.
“It made me feel like a teenager again,” smiled Almeda.
From then on, they started seeing each other every night, and got the blessing of most friends and family, including Gary’s mum Tammy, then 48, and his grandmother Carolyn, then 71.
Two weeks after their first date, she had no hesitation in accepting when Gary proposed on the phone. Six days later, Almeda wore a dress borrowed from his cousin as they married in the gardens outside Lisa’s flat.
Since their wedding, Gary’s had their names tattooed across his chest.
Gary said: “Almeda is so young at heart that age never bothers us, we never really think about it. I just know that God answered my prayers that day she walked into my life.”
Almeda told how she had been married before, for 43 years – but in a YouTube video admitted Gary was her “soulmate”.
“I was married for 43 years and there wasn’t a lot of kissy, huggy stuff going on… no romance.
“[My current relationship] it’s a whirlwind."
I promise you to love you unconditionally and shower you with all the care and concern you desire until my last breath.Gary Hardwick
She continued: “We are always complimenting and kissing. We’re enjoying our relationship. When you meet that perfect one, that’s when you know you don’t want to lose that feeling."
Almeda was speaking at the launch of her talk show, Girl’s Talk, where she offers advice to members of the public.
During her first segment she responded to a woman called Jordy to talk about how to make love last.
She explained: “You need to sit down with each other and work through the problem in relationships. “Some people just fly off the handle and they don’t want to talk about the problem.
“In our relationship we do little things each day to help each other out whether he cooks me supper or mops for me.
“We always thank each other.
“It’s the little things like that, cooking a meal, washing dishes.”
She emphasised the importance of complimenting your lover. “Always compliment him and show love,” she said. “Show it every day, we aren’t promised tomorrow.”
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She added: ‘The one thing I’ve learnt is that when you truly love somebody, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.”
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