(My computer has a virus, and it's operating on minimum capacity. I can't add any pictures.)
My love story for Valentine's Day is not my own. This is my parents' love story.
They met at a small Methodist college in WV. My dad said he saw her at a party, and it was love at first sight. I think it took some convincing for my mom.
Dad's proposal was very romantic. Marry me now or never. Mom said she was afraid he meant it, so she agreed to "now" and they eloped. The year was 1947.
Time passed. Three children ~ house, dog, cat ~ graduations ~ weddings ~ grandchildren. (My niece reminded me that I forgot the almost 11 great-grandchildren. We're still waiting for my grandson to arrive. He was due February 12.)
Then, in the 80's, my dad had Guillain Barre Syndrome. It was a very frightening time. As the disease progressed, my dad became completely paralyzed. (If you want to read more about this, here's a link.)
It was a horrible time, but Mom stayed with Dad the 5 months he was in the hospital. She slept on one of those hospital cots and ate the same hospital food. (She took a leave of absence from teaching.)
Love endured. Dad recovered.
In 1997, Daddy wanted them to renew their wedding vows and give Mom the wedding she never had. As I was trying to choose the invitations, I still remember him saying, "I want something fancy." The minister made their vow renewal part of the church service that day and preached on love. Dad walked Mom down the aisle in front of our family and the congregation.
More time passed. Their seven grandchildren have given them almost 11 great-grandchildren. (My niece reminded me that I forgot to mention them. We're still waiting for my grandson to arrive. He was due February 12.)
In 2002, Mom needed an aortic valve replacement. Before she had the surgery, she showed Dad how to run the dishwasher and the washing machine. (She had always taken care of him.)
Three weeks after the surgery, Mom had a massive stroke. She lost the ability to read and communicate, even how to swallow. She was paralyzed on one side. Life changed again. Now it was Dad's turn to take care of Mom. For nine years, he has done that. Along with the household duties (he has since hired a part-time housekeeper), he is Mom's sole caretaker. He helped her learn to eat with her other hand. He exercises her arm to keep it flexible. He bathes her and dresses her daily.
But more than that, he is always thinking of things to help her. For several years, he took her to FL for experimental treatments. He worries about how she looks, much more than Mom ever did. He takes her for manicures and pedicures - which she had never done before the stroke - as well as her weekly hair appointment. He worked for several years, trying to teach her how to read again. (Life is sad. My Mom taught school for 30 years and has two degrees, yet she can no longer read a book.) He has routines to help her stay engaged. The list goes on and on.
When she gets upset at all he has to do, he tells her ~ You took care of me, now it's my turn to take care of you. Love endures.
When I stay with them, I hear him at night when they go to bed. He prays
for both of them when he prays:
Now we lay us down to sleep.
We pray thee, Lord, our souls to take.
If we should die before we wake,
We pray thee, Lord, ours souls to take.
I wish for all of you a love that endures.