A 72-YEAR-OLD grandmother remains happily married to her 19-year-old husband despite their 53-year age gap.
In the summer of 2016, Almeda never expected to find love with teenager, Gary Hardwick, during an outing at a pizza restaurant.
But after just two weeks of dating, they took their whirlwind romance to the next level when Gary popped the question and they decided to get married.
After just coming out of a relationship with a 77-year-old, Gary claims it was love at first sight when he locked eyes with the grandmother of six - one of whose grandchildren is older than Gary.
But even now, the couple who live in Maryville, Tennessee, are still happier than ever.
‘If you love somebody, age is just a number,’ Almeda says.
‘I’ve now been happily married going on two years with my true soul mate.
‘We met at Chuck E Cheese, there was a birthday party there. I looked into his eyes and I just fell in love.
‘I knew he was the one I wanted to spend my life with. I was never intimidated by the age at all.’
And luckily for her, Gary felt the exact same.
‘The first thing that attracted me to Almeda was her beautiful, gorgeous blue eyes. And her personality,’ he explains.
‘She’s always full of laughter and we just connected so well. The chemistry was great.
‘Everything about her has just captured my heart since day one.’
Despite the staggering difference in their age, Gary and Almeda have similar interests and hobbies.
‘I never feel as though I’m missing out on anything by being married to Almeda,’ Gary says.
‘I’m really mature for my age, I do not fit into the young age bracket at all.
‘I’ve never been attracted to younger women. Even when I was 13 or 14, I’ve always had an attraction for older women and when I told my grandmother, who raised me, I didn’t know how she would take it. But she accepted us.
‘A lot of people wait years to get married and everyone has different opinions on getting married quickly. But we knew we were in love, so I jumped on that.
‘The first time we made love was on our wedding night. It was an amazing experience. There was such a deep connection there. She’s a wonderful lover.’
The happy couple are more than aware that a lot of people disagree with the nature of their relationship.
Aaron and Indiana Elliott, Almeda’s grandchildren, also found it difficult to accept their relationship in the early stages – particularly 22-year-old Aaron, who is three years older than his step-grandfather.
‘I only called him Grandfather once and it was when I was drunk.
‘In my head, I see him as a friend more than a grandfather,’ Aaron says.
‘But you know, our grandmother is happy.’
Indiana, 17, adds: ‘And how can you not be supportive about that?
‘For me personally, whenever they first got together it was a little bit weird. But I mean, we live in the 21st century and those things really shouldn’t matter.
‘My mom on the other hand is very outspoken, because you know there’s an age difference between him and my mom too so it’s a little weird to see your mother walking around with someone the same age as your own kids.’
One of Gary and Almeda’s passion points is YouTube. They run their very own channel with 49,000 subscribers, with their love being the focus of most videos.
And more recently, they have introduced merchandise to sell to their ‘fans’ with pens and mugs that have their faces on.
Gary says: ‘One of the things we love to do together is film videos for our YouTube channel.
‘We do vlogs, reaction videos and pranks. And as far as I know, we are the biggest age gap couple that are YouTubers.’
Almeda is confident that she will be with Gary for the rest of her life – whilst her hubby wants to continue to spread the message that age is just a number.
‘What does the future hold for Gary and Almeda? I believe amazing things,' Gary explains.
‘We want to pursue our dreams on YouTube and be able to inspire more and more people every day that age is just a number – it should not matter.
‘As long as you’re in love with that person, you should follow your heart and be happy and be yourself.’