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HOLMBERG: Richmond couple finds happiness against tough odds

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR)- On Thursday night, as International Happiness Day drew to a close, we talked a bit about how to make every day happy.

We asked how people find happiness.

We heard from, and about, several people. Among them, Anne and Bob Reinhardt, high school sweethearts now ready to retire.

They’re living in an extended-stay hotel on West Broad Street near Short Pump. They sold everything but a small travel trailer’s worth of belongings that they could pull behind their pickup to a small Mexican town they had fallen in love with.

They were high school sweethearts looking forwards to some mellow time together.

He’s was a career Navy man. She worked for the state.

Bob says he’s a lucky man, to have a woman like her to love him through thick and thin.

And Anne feels lucky, too, blessed that when cancer came calling, she answered right away.

The first time was when she was just 35. Breast cancer. She caught it early and beat it with chemo and radiation.

In the midst of her clear years, a phone call came on June 3, 2011. Jason, their only child together –  a hard-working  24-year-old with his own house – was dead at 24, killed in a motorcycle crash on Courthouse Road.

Both were devastated. The worst heartbreak they had ever imagined. They fought through the worst of it, realizing it will never go away. They found a little solace joining the legions who helped a local young man get a double lung transplant. That man, Tucker  Gordon (#helptuckerbreathe), had a close friend who was friends with their son. (You can see that story here: http://wtvr.com/2013/05/08/helptuckerbreathe-raises-tens-of-thousands-for-henrico-patient/)

Mexico was calling them.

But cancer called first, again. Anne, being cautious, found she had melanoma of the scalp in the summer. She’s had a series of surgeries and just finished her rounds of radiation. Chemo is on deck, it appears.

And so they stay on in their hotel.

Surprisingly happy.

For her, it’s simple. It could always be worse. So many people have it much worse, she says. You just never know . . .

“You need to live every day to the fullest,” Anne says. “So many people are upset about small, minute things. My theory  – is it life or death? If it’s not life or death, I’m not going to get upset.”

She laughs at the world-class comb-over that covers the baldness on top of her head. Most people, she says proudly, have no idea that she’s going through anything heavy or hard.

In her mind, she says, she’s just living.