Walking at the mall today, I saw an old man in a wheelchair. There was nothing strange about that, of course, but what caught my attention was the fact that he was using his legs to move the wheelchair. No one was pushing him. His wife walked a few steps ahead of him.
She stopped, turned to him, and said, “Am I going too fast?”
He answered, “No, you’re fine.”
At this point, I was along side of the wife. We caught each others’ eyes, so I smiled and said, “Walking sure has changed, hasn’t it.”
She understood what I meant and smiled at me. “It sure has,” she said. “But would you believe my husband was bedridden for two years and in hospice?” She went on to explain how they had a doctor who would come to their house regularly to check on him. The wife had been caring for him at home on her own. Over time, he improved so much that they finally asked the doctor to stop coming because her husband wanted to go visit his own doctor.
When they arrived at the doctor’s office, his doctor said to the wife, “What have you done to him?”
“What do you mean?” She asked, afraid she’d done something wrong.
The doctor asked, “Did you study medicine?” When she shook her head “no,” he said, “Your husband should never have been able to get out of his bed.” He was amazed at the progress his patient had made.
She continued telling me about the various things she did to help her husband regain his strength. I was deeply touched by the dedication of this woman and the perseverance of this man. They were probably in their late 70s or 80s. He sat somewhat bent forward in his wheelchair, but he would look up and smile at us. One eye only slightly open and the other aged, yet in that wrinkled face I sensed a zest for life. He was not ready to stop living. There was plenty of fight left in him.
He looked at me with a slight smile and said, “They wanted to give me an electric wheelchair, but I wouldn’t hear of it. I can still use my legs.”
Standing their looking at this couple and listening to their story, I longed to ask them about their faith. Do they believe in God? I suspected that they did, but I wasn’t certain. So I asked the wife, “Where did you find the strength to take care of your husband?”
She smiled, pointed her finger upward, and said, “My strength comes from up there.”
I told her, “I had a feeling you are a praying woman.”
“Oh, yes!” she said.
I was curious to know how long they’d been married.
With a bright smile, she said, “We’ve been married 58 years.”
I told her, “You have stayed faithful to the vows you made to each other for better and for worse. What a wonderful testimony your life is!”
She said, “That’s true. We have. And my husband helped me a few years ago when I had hip surgery.”
I knew I was looking at a love that had endured time, trials, and impossibilities. I saw before me a man whose body was withered, but he didn’t let it stop him. I saw a woman who didn’t complain about all she had to do for him. Instead, she joyfully stated, “I have dedicated my life to helping him get better.” She was obviously proud of her husband and I would venture to say she was his loudest cheerleader, encouraging him every step of the way.
As I was saying goodbye to them, she let me know, “Soon we will go camping again.”
I imagine they will.