This past summer I was able to spend a couple of days in St. Louis visiting my family. It was one of the greatest gifts I could have been given. Although she wasn't in the best state of mind and probably didn't know I was there....I knew. Our few hours together are the last I had with her and I will carry them in my heart for as long as I live. Even as her memory failed her and her body seemed to revolt against her the sense of humor she was known for still shined through. She was just as fun loving and stubborn as she had ever been. Obviously there are some things that even age can't take from you.
As I was getting ready to leave my Uncle Carey (her husband) pulled me aside to encourage me to take a few extra minutes saying goodbye to her because it would probably be my last chance. He explained to me what the doctors had said at the last visit and what we could expect for the days ahead. Even with how sick she was my Uncle was determined to never put her in a nursing home. He was committed to caring for her until the end. As we stood there he began to take his wallet out of his pocket. Baffled I simply stood waiting on him to explain. A second later he handed me an old picture. It was visibly wrinkled and aged from all the years it had been in that wallet. It was my Aunt Nancy's senior picture. My uncle carried that picture throughout their entire marriage.
As I looked up I saw the tears forming in his eyes and I listened as he told me how much he loved my aunt. He shared how special she was and all the things about her that he would miss when she was gone. He pointed at the picture and said "she's beautiful isn't she?" He openly admitted that he "had married the prettiest girl in the school" and that she was "just as beautiful today as she was the day he met her." From there he launched into the story of their life/love. She was (17 years old) sitting in a restaurant the first time he saw her. He couldn't stop staring at her "she was so beautiful." 90 days later they were married! They would have celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary this year.
I tell you all of this not to show just how cute my uncle is but instead to tell you what kind of love they shared. Their love stands as an example for me and the rest of our family. Uncle Carey set the bar high for the kind of guy I hope to marry some day. If I've ever doubted that true love exists their love convinced me. My heart aches to think that my Uncle Carey is now without his beautiful bride. I can't imagine how lost he must feel after 55 beautiful years with her.
Please pray for me and my family as we struggle through this loss. Pray that we don't focus on what we lost but instead on what we had. She truly was an amazing women.