Bill is our guest writer this week. He hails from Minnesota where he played some serious high school hockey in his day. He enjoys retirement now, but appreciated his years as a high school counselor. He loves to fly and pilots his own plane several times a week. Bill is a consummate gentleman whose goodness inspires us! Here is his story…
I met a couple many years ago, Earl and Betty. When I saw one of them, the other was always there. Even though they were in their late 60s, they would look at each other like kids and find humor in almost any remark. They were very attentive to each other. Earl worked for the County and had to retire early. He just couldn’t do his job anymore. “Bad knees,” he said. Betty worked part-time as a clerk. They had only one car during their marriage. It was a hand-me-down from one of their four children. They were happy together. Then Earl got sick – couldn’t remember things, got lost easily, and his vision began to fail. Betty needed her job, but what would happen to Earl while she was at work? Earl was a veteran who served during the Korean War and was eligible for a day program at the VA hospital. I was asked to spend a couple of hours a day with Earl until Betty came home. That was the beginning of a revelation for me…the privilege of seeing something extraordinary.
As Earl’s health declined, it became necessary for him to go to a nursing home. Most people in nursing homes get very little company. Not so for Earl. Betty was there like clockwork, making sure his clothes were clean, brushing his hair, rubbing a sore hand, examining a bruise, and giving him continued encouragement. There is no doubt that if the tables had been turned, Earl would have taken care of Betty’s needs just as she took care of his.
I continued to see Earl weekly for the next four years as his health slowly deteriorated. Betty rode the bus every day to spend time with him. Earl, now totally blind and with a limited vocabulary, continued to relate to Betty. One day I asked Earl,“What do you think of Betty, this woman you married so many years ago?” In the most serious tone he could muster, Earl said, “She’s a peach.”
During the last week of his life, Earl slept most of the time and was unresponsive even to Betty. Still, Betty stroked his hand, brushed his hair, and talked to him. When Betty mentioned the nickname of one of their children, Earl opened his eyes, repeated the name loudly, and laughed. It was the last thing Earl responded to. Even in his weakened condition, Earl still had an inner core awareness of the central part of his life – his family. Earl and Betty were married for 53 years. At the time of their marriage, people made their promises with traditional vows: to honor and obey – in good times and in bad – in sickness and in health – till death do us part. Earl and Betty honored and kept and those vows. They were two people who loved each other without condition for all of their days together.
It has been four years since the passing of Earl. Betty is now in her 80s. When we have a conversation, she still talks about Earl – laughing about things that happened years ago. No tears – no self pity – just joyful thoughts about their life together. It is just as though Earl is still there listening. They are still a couple even though Earl is gone.
I have heard it said that love conquers all. Never really believed it….but I do now.
A “Good” Idea :
The Society encourages everyone to seek Beauty, Trueness, Love, and Life-Giving Things everyday. Bill witnessed something in his life that made him a believer in the power of love to overcome most any obstacle. Share with us an inspiring source of love in your own life.