On the day of my dad’s funeral, as the photos flashed on the screen in the little country church, I was in awe. It was clear that the life in review was not about one person, but about two and the love they shared. I wasn’t there to witness the beginning of my parent’s love story, but I was privileged to observe it for decades.
Dad didn’t die from any particular disease, but rather a series
of unfortunate events. While gardening one day, he stumbled on the sidewalk, fell, and cut his face. That led to a staph infection and there was some sort of stroke, probably, along the way. Mixed in with shingles and an inability to swallow and it was a spiral from which he would never fully recover.
Everyone who knows my parents knows of their long love affair. Sixty-six years of marriage is a lifetime. Mom was just 17 when they wed and Dad was 23. They grew up in the same rural community in far north Texas. They married in 1950.
What I was privileged to watch in 2017 was an exchange of love rites that would make anyone envious. When Dad was in the hospital going through days so tough that he at times would insist he was dying, he still managed to see his bride. At times he couldn’t really see, in fact. She asked him if he could see her as she leaned in close.
“Do you know who this is? Can you see me?”
“I don’t know who you are,” he joked, “but I see an angel.”
In the last weeks of his life, mom sat with him every day, and continued to tell him she loved him and she was there. He couldn’t see or speak by that time. Once, as she hovered over him, she seemed to know what he was thinking. “Do you want to kiss me?” He did. She did. What a romance. What a love affair. What a gift to witness as two great friends and lovers shared their final days on earth together.
Dad is enjoying heaven now and mom is left with only us. “He loved us so much”, she whispered in my ear on the day of his funeral. He really did. If you were one of the ‘us’ he loved, you know how special that love was. I will miss it forever.
I know he loved her the best.