I read the following story in the book entitled simple little words by michelle cox & john perrodin. It reminded me of my grandparents.
Mr. Todd was physically small in stature, but in every way that really mattered, he was one of the biggest men I’ve ever known.
I first met him when I was a little girl. We attended the same church, and whenever the doors were open, Mr. Todd was there, usually attired in a polyester-checked sport coat and a felt fedora hat that he tipped in a courtly manner whenever he greeted one of the ladies.
Under most circumstances, Mr. Todd was one of those people who faded into the background, his quiet nature and unassuming manner never the type to draw public attention.
He and his wife, Clara, had married back in the ’30s, standing before God and each other as they repeated the words of their marriage vows, promising to love each other “in sickness and in health, till death do us part.” For the next sixty-four years, the two were completely devoted to one another, their close relationship made even more so because they didn’t have children.
They took pride in their garden each summer, canning and freezing enough of the bounty to share and to carry them through another winter.
They often invited other churchgoers home for Sunday dinner where they received a warm welcome and plates piled high with Clara’s fine home cooking.
And so life continued for many years. Then things changed abruptly when Clara suffered a stroke. Mr. Todd tended her with loving care, watching her decline as a second stroke further decimated her weakened body. A third stroke arrived, this one more dibilitiating than the previous, and it soon became apparent she would need more medical care than he could give.
The house was so empty. For almost sixty years, Clara had filled their home with love and laughter. Now silence echoed throughout the rooms. He missed the simple things. Reaching over to kiss her in the morning. Talking together about the birds that played outside their window. Telling her “I love you” as he went to bed.
There was never any question that he would honor his wedding vows, those words ‘in sickness and in health” so lovingly spoken many years before.
His days took on a new routine that lasted for seven years. Each morning, he would drive down the street, walk the gleaming halls of the nursing home, and spend the day with his Clara, tenderly wiping her face, rubbing lotion onto her dry hands and feet, and talking about the precious times they’d shared before illness invaded their lives.
Where most people walking past Clara’s door would have just noticed a frail, elderly woman in a hospital bed, Mr. Todd still looked at her with eyes of love that saw the beautiful bride he had married so many years before.
The only day Mr. Todd varied from his routine was on Sunday where he honored his other lifelong commitment, sitting on a pew at their church, filling out a tithing envelope in his shaky handwriting, and worshipping the God who had been his and Clara’s strength throughout their lives.
At 11:45 sharp, he would slip quietly from the pew, and those of us sitting near him would wipe tears from our cheeks. We knew where he was going. We knew it was time for lunch with this precious Clara.
And we knew we’d been privileged to witness a lesson in love as Mr. Todd honored those words, “in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live.”
My own grandmother had a stroke thirteen years before she passed away, that left her unable to speak, and bound in a wheelchair. My grandfather went and sat with his beloved wife every day without fail, except for one snowy day that made traveling a hazard. Even when he was no longer able to drive himself, he was at her side.
This speaks volumes. My grandfather’s health began to fail shortly after my grandmother died, and he passed away fourteen months later. His devotion was a testament to their lives and marriage.