Our neighbors, an elderly man and woman, have been married for a long time. They raised 10 children in a modest house on our street. They are very private and we don’t know them well. Still, they are good neighbors. They always say hello to us in passing. The house is always neat and tidy. The yard is always well-tended. A few years ago, the woman became ill. The man cared for her in the house as long as he was able. We watched as she grew progressively more frail. We watched as he doted on her, devoting himself to her needs. Eventually, the day came when she could no longer live at home. We watched sadly as she left for her new residence.
The transition to the new residence was not entirely smooth. The woman was not happy. She would not eat her meals. Not without her husband. It did not take long for the man to take on a new routine. Each and every day, he would drive to the nursing home and feed his wife her breakfast, lunch and dinner. Three trips to the nursing home each day. This has gone on for years and still, day after day, he makes those three trips.
The man’s care for his wife is such a sign to me. This is real love. This is the kind of love with which I am called to love John. If I were in my neighbor’s position, would I make the same choice? Would I give up my time morning, noon and night to sit with him so that he could eat? My neighbor shows me that such love is possible. He shows me that marriage vows can be lived out joyfully, in sickness and in health. Seeing the way my neighbor loves his wife inspires me to love John more each and every day.