Let’s Love Them While We Can

CookiesOn Saturday – like every year on the Saturday before Valentine’s Day – I took my kids in to the nursing home to help their 4H club host the February birthday party.

I will admit it wasn’t something I looked forward to. It was more like something I made the kids do because it was right and good.

But I walked away from that nursing home with tears in  my eyes and a full heart.

As we were arranging cookies and passing out the well-used bingo cards, I noticed a couple walk in. He was gently leading her – holding her arm while carrying on a quiet conversation, pointing out things of interest, asking her where she would like to sit.

She was silent, her head down, her eyes open, but vacant as she shuffled in beside him. I wondered if it was a sudden stroke, or the slow moving effects of Alzheimer’s that had robbed this man of his wife.

He gently seated her at a window table and continued the one sided conservation – all the while holding her hand.

I watched through-out the Bingo game as he played her card and his own, announcing her Bingo and choosing the prize he knew she would like.

She remained seated there staring into space – quiet and still  – except for the involuntary spasms her limbs made.

I lost sight of them for a few minutes while we passed out the frosted sugar cookies and punch. But later, as things calmed down, I looked over to see that he had gently tucked a napkin under her chin and was slowly, methodically, patiently feeding her a sugar cookie.

I wish you could have seen his eyes. They held no pity for her, no shame, only love. It was as if they were the only two people in the room.

That’s when my eyes filled with tears. I wanted to take a picture – but I couldn’t. It was such a private thing. That man was sharing his heart.

But if I had taken it – it would have been a perfect picture of love.

“Love is patient, love is kind… It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking… It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

I wondered how many Valentine’s they had celebrated over the years? How many Mondays and Tuesdays and Wednesdays they had shared? How many times they had sat down and enjoyed a cookie and small talk together?

How many times she told him she loved him before her speech was gone?

How many times he had told he loved her before she couldn’t understand?

It made me want to go home and hug my husband, tell my children I loved them, and call my parents and siblings – with a heart full of gratitude because they are still here to love.

“We must love them while we can, we must love them while we can
For time just seems to hurry by, and the days slip into years
And the moments that we have will disappear
So love them while we can…”

from the Chris Christian song, “Love Them While We Can”


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11 Responses

  1. I cried reading this. Thanks for sharing. It was such a good reminder to enjoy the time we have now.

  2. What a special post.
    It touched my heart.
    I lost my dad in 2010, my mom is still living.
    While my dad was in the Nursing Home I called him often to say `I Love You`.
    I continue to call my mom twice a week and before we hang up I tell her I love her.
    Those three simple words say a lot.

  3. Beautiful. I’m all teary-eyed, too. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. This is beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. Such a sad story, and you don’t even need a picture, because you painted such a great picture through your words. Awesome.

  5. This was truly a beautiful moment between them. A great testimony for the rest of us! Thanks for sharing, Melinda!

  6. You really hit a soft spot in me with this story. Makes me want to call everyone I love. 🙂

  7. I have tried several times responding to this and I finally think I can now without too many tears. You see, my step-grandfather had to put my grandma in a nursing home because of Alzheimer’s. I saw this same thing with my own eyes. My dad passed away in 2007 and 6 months later, my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I am 400+ miles away and it breaks my heart that I am not near my mom to help her. My dad knew my mom had Alzheimer’s and did his best before he died. Now my three brothers are left to help take care of my mom. She isn’t in a nursing home yet, but will be soon. I tell her as much as possible that I love her. Tell your loves ones every day that you love them. For they may not be here tomorrow. Blessings.

  8. I am teary eyed as I read this…what a blessing you witnessed that power and are sharing it. Thank you!

  9. I too am wiping tears. What a beautiful post. My dad was in the nursing home for 8 years with senile dementia. When mom could she would drive 40 miles round trip to see him every day. I stopped every other day after work. A nursing home can be so sad, but if you really look you can find evidence of love, real love! Dad passed in 1998 and Mom in 2007. We do need to remember to hug those around us and tell them how much they mean to us every single day! Tomorrow is not promised us. Thanks for sharing.
    until next time… nel

  10. I think about things like this each and every time Kyle walks out the door to leave for work… I think about things like this each and every time MaKayla or Mallary are going somewhere or doing something without their dad or I… I don’t live in fear yet I do try to keep in check as far as, “What if…” I know that God would be ultimately, completely and totally faithful however I attempt to love them while I have them for I have no guarantee what the next moment, day, week or year might bring.

    By the way, Happy Birthday Precious Friend…you are a jewel! 😮

    Hugs~
    Mendi

  11. Phew! That totally made me cry!

    What a beautiful post!