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 inĀ  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 stillĀ  – 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”