"I shall love you in December with the love you gave me in May."
John Alexander Joyce
Seventeen summers ago, Muriel and I began our journey into the twilight. It's midnight now, at least for her, and sometimes I wonder when dawn will break. Even the dreaded Alzheimer's disease isn't supposed to attack so early and torment so long.
Yet, in her silent world, Muriel is so content, so lovable. If she were to die, how I would miss her gentle, sweet presence. Yes, there are times when I get irritated, but not often.
It doesn't make sense to get angry. And besides, perhaps God has been answering the prayer of my youth to mellow my spirit.
Love is said to evaporate if the relationship is not mutual, if it's not physical, if the other person doesn't communicate or if one party doesn't carry his or her share of the load. When I hear the litany of essentials for a happy marriage, I count off what my beloved can no longer contribute, and then I contemplate how truly mysterious love is.
What some people find so hard to understand is that loving Muriel isn't hard. They wonder about my former loves-like my work. "Do you miss being president?" a University student asked as we sat in our little garden. I told him I'd never thought about it, but, on reflection, no. As exhilarating as my work had been, I enjoyed learning to cook and keep house. No, I never looked back.
But that night I did reflect on his question and prayed, "I like this assignment, and I have no regrets. But if a coach puts a man on the bench, he must not want him in the game. You needn't tell me, of course, but I'd like to know-why didn't you keep me in the game?"
I didn't sleep well that night and awoke contemplating the puzzle. Muriel was still mobile at that time, so we set out on our morning walk around the block. She wasn't too sure on her feet, so we went slowly and held hands as we always do.
This day I heard footsteps behind me and looked back to see the familiar form of a local derelict behind us. He staggered past us, then turned and looked us up and down. "Tha's good. I likes 'at," he said. "That's real good. I likes it." He turned and headed back down the street, mumbling to himself over and over, "Tha's good. I likes it."
The next morning, I realized the Lord had answered me through "the weak and the beggarly things", that friendly old derelict. I am not on the bench, I am right where He wants me to be and I respond "Tha's good. I likes it."
..."To love, to honor and to cherish... to have and to hold... all the days of my life. To me, this is not a duty. It is a privilege. Life is fleeting and but for a moment. We will all get the rest of our answers when we get home.
The important thing is not to abandon what God has given us to do. Even if we deem it not prestigious or seemingly insignificant or not developing the way we think it ought. Those things are beyond our scope.
I love my wife more today than the day we were married. She is my purpose. She is my privilege. I look forward to skipping with her again when we get home.
Have a great day!
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