Before I get on with my story, I was surprised I actually learned something new this past Sunday, February 2nd. In addition to being the much regarded Ground Hogs Day, it was also was Candlemas, forty days after Christmas and the day Jesus was presented at the temple by his parents. All of the liturgical candles for the year are blessed during this mass, hence the name. It also signifies the midway point between winter and spring and way back when, it was actually the way they determined if spring was to come early or not according to an old English poem:
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come winter, have another flight.
If Candlemas bring clouds and rain,
Go winter, and come not again.
Today, most people use the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil with the same guidelines to determine if we are to have any early spring. Interesting huh?
But it was something that happened in church this day that actually got me reflecting about love. The kind of love that withstands hardship and trials. You see, we sat next to an elderly couple, probably in their eighty’s. I remember sitting down, the lady leaned over smiled at me and mass went on as usual. It wasn’t until we got up to go to communion that I noticed something eerily familiar. The woman seemed uncertain what to do and reached over for guidance from her husband who gently guided her to the aisle. He went ahead of her, I am sure so she could follow him and see him. But as he approached the priest, he had to step away out of her comfort space where she could touch him and seemed to stop in her tracks, confused and unsure where to go. He received communion and then reached back to hold her hand and guide her back to the pew.
There was no doubt in my mind she had dementia. I recognize the vacant look in her eyes, the uncertainty of her ability, the dependence on her caregiver, her husband of what I can only assume many years. My mother was that woman, only much younger…by almost twenty years. I was so touched by the gentleness of the man’s caring as if nothing was different. But yet, everything was different. I felt for him and the feelings he must be having and has yet to go through as she slips further away into this dreadful disease. I wanted to reach out to him and tell him he’s doing a good thing and that I would pray for them. That I understood what he is going through. I watched my dad lovingly care for my mom until he could no longer care for her and they both ended up in a nursing home.
This is what love is. Love is easy when everything is going well. It is the caring for your loved ones when the worst news comes and the long lonely days are ahead. It is commitment in good times and bad.
Just some food for thought.