I recently came across this story, and thought it was the perfect time to repost. I wrote it in October of 2015, but I still think about it often. It’s a real life love story, one we could all learn something from.
Sending you all lots of love this week!
My Grammie lived with my family for a few years before she was transferred to a nursing home. The adjustment was hard for her, especially due to the new presence of a roommate, but she understood the necessity, as her health had begun to rapidly decline.
Her room was set up with two beds arranged parallel to one another, divided by a curtain. Her roommate was by the door, and my Grammie was by the window, which she liked, because the sun shone in and warmed her cold skin during the day. One afternoon, as my mom walked down the hall, she saw a man in the doorway, sitting in a chair beside the roommate’s bed.
“Hello,” she said warmly as she approached him.
The man immediately jumped up from his seat to greet her, extending his hand kindly.
“Hello ma’am,” he said, “my name is Mr. Day and this is my wife.” He gestured to my Grammie’s roommate. “I just want you to know that I will be looking out for your mom, Miss. Patricia, here. I will make sure she is taken care of and is as comfortable as possible.”
A few days later, when I made my first visit to the nursing home, I took a seat next to my Grammie’s television and watched the sunbeams shine in through the window and across her freckled arms. She said she felt pretty good that day, that her breathing was better and she had an appetite again. My mom asked about her physical therapy, and my sister talked about the talent show our brother was in over the weekend. As they talked, I glanced down at the dresser next to the television, noticing a few cards and a teddy bear holding a puffy, red, “get well soon” heart in its arms. Being nosy, I flipped open the tag attached to its ear and read the kind handwritten note addressed to a name I didn’t recognize. I then inched each of the cards ajar and noticed they too shared the same recipient, though according to the dates inside, some were given four or five years ago.
On my next visit, as my mom and I were en-route to the window side bed, she saw the familiar figure sitting in the chair by the doorway. When we reached him, Mr. Day again jumped up with haste to greet us. It was my first time meeting him, and as he shook my hand he said, “You know you look exactly like your mother.”
That day, as my mom and I visited, I watched Mr. Day out of the corner of my eye. He sat, very content, next to his wife’s bed, watching football and holding her hand. My mom had told me his story on the drive over.
Nine years. Nine years he’d been doing this. Almost an entire decade. Mrs. Day had a stroke in her mid-50s, and was later diagnosed with both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. For nine years he had come to visit her, knowing she would lay there asleep, being fed through a tube. There were so many things he could be doing, so many places he could be seeing, yet there he was beside her, as he’d always been.
What a love they must have had, I thought; though it was clear that to him it did not live in the past. This woman, even while held in the clutches of tubes and wires, was still the woman he married, the woman who held his heart.
I thought of what my Grammie had told my mom the day before.
“Her feet kick,” she’d said.
“What do you mean?” my mom asked.
“When he talks to her. She kicks her feet when she hears his voice.”
Oh what a love they still have, I thought.
He, who has every reason to feel trapped or angry or resentful, looks at her like his own perfect Sleeping Beauty, and she, who has every reason to let go, holds on to hear that voice she knows so well. For even in the worse, they still find a way to keep the vow from the better.