My heart throbbing in my ears, pounds out the message…
They have taken her away.
Emptiness in my stomach is not due to lack of food, but the absence of my bride of sixty-five years. Memories carry me back across decades to that first encounter, hearing her teaching a Sunday school class in a city mission. Her abiding faith anchors our family in storms of life.
Old age, an uninvited guest invades their lives. When did the falls and bruises begin? As aging issues progress, her health deteriorates to the point of not being able to turn over in bed. The contentious caregiver daughter-in-law is not able to lift her rigid body; bedsores develop confirming her need for professional care.
Will she be okay at the nursing home? What if she falls out of bed? Can they get her to eat?
Anxiety and bitter loneliness overwhelm him.
For more than half a century, we have lived, worked and aged side-by-side. Now, I stand alone in fear and deafening silence. I should be there if she wakes up. She’ll be confused.
He feels helpless, unable to turn back the clock, or restore her health. She once tenderly ministered to others as a home nurse; now with signs of dementia, depends totally upon strangers. Family members try to console him, with explanations that she rests in a safe place; she receives the attention she needs.
Stooping with weakened bones and a heavy heart, I walk the rooms of the house we shared.
Wish we never left the old home-place.
Several years earlier, they sold their family home, accepting the generous offer of a son and daughter-in-law to live with them. Paying their way, they willingly share social security money from a rubber-band bound black billfold.
He longs to rush to her side, hold her frail hand in his once more. Things he once took for granted, he now cherishes.
If only I could… pass my tea bag along to her for a second dunking, tussle her braided hair, rub her clammy brow and kiss her once rosy cheek…
Nursing home staff curtails visits; she needs undisturbed rest.
Does she even know I come? Lord, are you taking her home?
The facility promises to call if there is any change in her condition. A small table in the formal dining room holds the cold, indifferent black telephone. They vowed to call; he must not miss it when they did.
Waiting becomes an obsession; hour-by-hour, day-by-day, he stands watch and strains to hear the phone ring. Nothing else matters; he must know about his precious Belle.
He feels closed off from the world around him. Family members know the seriousness of his plight. Nearly deaf for years, his desire to hear the ringing of the phone seems unlikely. Hearing and understanding simple conversations are difficult under the best of circumstances.
It is amazing; during his vigil, he can hear the phone ring! He is heart of hearing. He hears with his heart what his ears no longer can. He deals with the loss of his love. Life goes on.
I am rocking on the back porch. Grandma enjoyed rocking out here so much. I miss her. I’m 90 years old, and hope to join her soon. Your aunt is addressing the envelope for me. [Letter that I received in 1968]
At age 91, he stumbles into my aunt and uncles bedroom telling them about a visit from an angel. Digitalis no longer strengthens his weary heart. It stops and he slips into eternity.
Hearing aids are beneficial to those who experience hearing loss. The heart is a hearing aid that does not require batteries; it keeps a steady beat powered by love.