All too often, we look back on the day and marvel that we “simply made it through it.” That rut that we are in just seems too comfortable, too predictable, and too routine. It may be rare that you look back on a day and are changed by something simple, something sweet, or something we totally didn’t expect.
Following is a story that might be familiar to you. I ran across it a few months ago and it touched me. I would like to recount it here, but look at it, not just from the expected perspective, but from three different perspectives. Perhaps, even if you know this story, you’ll see the world a bit differently this time.
She Doesn’t Know Me, But I Still Know Who She Is
It was a busy morning, about 8:30, when an elderly gentleman in his 80’s, arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb.
He said he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00 am. I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would be able to see him.
I saw him looking at his watch, and decided, since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound. On exam, it was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors, got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound.
While taking care of his wound, I asked him if he had another doctor’s appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry. The gentleman told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife.
I inquired as to her health; he told me that she had been there for a while and that she was a victim of Alzheimer’s disease. As we talked, I asked if she would be upset if he was a bit late.
He replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognized him in five years now.
I was surprised, and asked him, ‘And you still go every morning, even though she doesn’t know who you are’? He smiled as he patted my hand and said, ‘She doesn’t know me, but I still know who she is’.
I had to hold back tears as he left; I had goose bumps on my arm, and thought, ‘That is the kind of love I want in my life’. True love is neither physical, nor romantic.
True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be.
Let’s look at this from the perspective each of the elderly man, his wife in the nursing home, and the nurse telling the story.
- The Elderly Man – Several words come to mind when I think of this man… devoted, loyal, dedicated, committed, loving. This man, in my mind, is living out the promises he made when he made his vows to his wife… in sickness and in health. This man is showing how a man should love his wife. I think many men believe that when they marry, they get to continue to live the life that they led up to that point… a life spent, for the most part, dedicated to their own happiness. When you take a wife, your own interests and happiness become secondary to her happiness. Your wife replaces you as the most important person in life. I am not saying that a husband must disavow all pursuits of hobbies, fun, and happiness. But, men, you can no longer be #1 when you have joined your hand and heart with another. Being loyal, dedicated, devoted, faithful, and loving to one woman will pay dividends for you and your family for a lifetime! This elderly man was continuing to give, to serve, and to love his wife well beyond the time she could repay him. Every husband should strive to love his wife like this man!
- The Wife in the Nursing Home – Every wife deserves to be loved like this woman is loved! Likewise, every man should be loved by his wife like this. None of us knows our own fate. Probably, many reading this will eventually be plagued by dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or something else that robs us of our mind. Knowing that, if the worst does happen, that there will be loved ones there at your side, through good and bad times, gives comfort that is hard to explain. Think about it… does your wife or husband know for sure that you’ll be there no matter what? I am blessed because I certainly know that I do.
- The Nurse – Right now, I am most interested in the perspective of the nurse. It was an ordinary day for her. Here, in the midst of a busy, normal day, she experienced something that was life-changing. She received an unexpected blessing from this man’s story. But, you know, had the nurse not taken the time to converse with this man… to simply show an interest… she would have missed this blessing. Had she just rushed through this procedure, treating it like every other procedure that day, she would have forfeited the chance to hear this touching story. How many of us just rush through the day or through life without taking just a minute to connect with others? How many unexpected blessings have we lost because we didn’t want to take a minute or pause to listen or open our hearts?
I don’t know where you are today or what you are going through. You may be facing the challenges of the wife in the nursing home. You may be struggling with a marriage that is strained, failing, or void of the love you want and need. You may be consumed with problems with the kids, financial struggles, career challenges, hopelessness, depression, fatigue, or sadness. You may just want to get on with your day and stay in that rut you have come to enjoy so much. However, I would challenge you to pause just a minute and start looking for those unexpected blessings that are right in front of you, poised, simply waiting for you to accept them.
When tomorrow comes, make a commitment to yourself to be alert and start looking for those unexpected blessings that await us. We never know when they will come. It could be a grandchild giving us a hug, a neighbor doing a favor, a group of 30+ year friends having coffee on the deck, a beautiful sunrise, or holding the hand of your wife. Don’t be in such a rush that you miss it. Don’t let the sun set tomorrow without finding the blessing that lies in wait for you. It is there… we just have to be willing to seek it and enjoy it when it happens.