1 Corinthians 13:4-7: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
These simple yet significant verses have adorned my kitchen wall for many years now, so long ago that I cannot recall when I purchased the picture with them on it and hung it by our kitchen table. I remember when I first got the picture, I loved it so, looked at it and read these verses every morning with a thankful, humble heart. But as the years rolled by the picture with these powerful verses waned slowly down to a quiet fixture in my kitchen, gradually replaced by a busy household filled with sports, scouts, church, choir, transporting kids everywhere, and socializing, both with adults and for our children. Over the course of time the image simply became a vague reminder once in a blue moon of the sacred, hallowed verses; I barely noticed them anymore in the daily hub of activity in our home. But the verses remained, even when a friend criticized my dated wall decor. Something tugged at my heart, and though my kitchen has been remodeled to meet modern times, my wall decor by my table remains constant.
Nowadays our house is largely quiet, but for a few days a week , when we get to enjoy the treasured chaos of two lively little boys (1 and 3 years old); our cherished and utterly loved grandsons. And then…the slow, invasive disease that has wracked my husband’s brain and body made its heartbreaking presence known to all. Again, the verses remained peacefully silent, waiting to be noticed. Then this morning I happened to look up and there they were…I reread each one with a renewed sense of abundant joy in my heart! Now my mind is flooded with the overwhelming outpouring of love we have been blessed with by friends and family over the past several months since the shock of Art’s harsh diagnosis. I feel compelled to share some of these blessings we have received with you now.
I am thankful for a family, immediate and extended, who loves and cares for us; our children and their spouses especially, to say nothing of those two sweet grandkids- who consistently see their Papa (Art) as affectionate, tender, devoted and attentive to them. Recently my oldest son helped his dad to the car, drove him home, and stayed with him until things calmed down for Art-we had been at church, in quite literally the middle of the service, and it was increasingly evident that Art was struggling to maintain his composure in the wake of violent body spasms, that had come over him unprovoked during the church service, invading his sense of peace and dignity. I had gone upstairs to deliver my grandson to Children’s Church when I returned to discover two empty seats where they had both been sitting. I immediately attempted to hunt them down to no avail. They were no where to be found. With a growing realization, I knew then Kevin had taken his dad home, to his safe haven, away from inquiring eyes that intensely disturb him. Can you guess how he wants to be guided out of the service when this happens? Without ever turning back, moving through the sanctuary face front, carefully and painstakingly walking forward, only feet from the pastor preaching on the pulpit. In this way, he never has to see anyone’s face staring at him. That is especially heinous to him (mind you, very few actually are staring, but it’s the possibility that someone might be that fills him with unforgivable dread). So out the front of the sanctuary we go-or on this day, they went!
The fact that Kevin took charge of the situation with his dad, knowing what is best for him, brought tears to my eyes as I sat listening to the sermon. I knew I did not have to leave, Kevin had the situation calmly, and completely under control. Something jolted inside of me as I took my seat in the service, thinking of the son caring for the father, and this simply got to me. “Love is patient, love is kind….always protects, always trusts. Love never fails.” Words put into action. I was overwhelmed.
Others have given of themselves and their time, such as our younger son Dave, who thoughtfully spent a weekend with his dad so I could get away and relax with friends, ever the conscientious and good natured son, attentive to the wants and needs of his father he made sure they had a fun time as well! Art’s brother Bobby, enthusiastically spent a great week just hanging out with Art, sharing laughs, smoking cigars, two brothers devoted to each other through good times and bad. Then there is our compassionate daughter-in-law Caitlin, spending priceless time with her father-in-law (really? How many young moms actually to do that?!) What a blessing she has been to us for the countless hours spent engaging him in conversation on her many visits with the grandkids while I am unavailable, at work. Not to be overlooked is our sweet, playful daughter-in-law Jolin, who lovingly teases Art on a regular basis , just as she always has. That makes him feel like his old self, like he is not suffering the effects of a degenerative disease. Simple, yet effective. One can never fully appreciate the value of how nurturing and uplifting this is for him! For Walter, our friend who faithfully drives us to and from Mass General doctor visits to Boston, as his continual gift to us. I so appreciate not having to drive in and find a place to park-now my focus can remain completely on Art, where it needs to be! To those gentlemen who take turns picking Art up for a Thursday morning men’s gathering at the local coffee shop, where I am sure they attempt to solve all the problems of the world. To Burton, who is not shy about lending a helping hand by slipping his arm around Art, and helping him maneuver the stairs to our house, and to Craig, seemingly our guardian angel, appearing out of nowhere time and time again to help take Art’s arm when leaving church (when our kids are not there). To our dear friend and former housemate Bill, who randomly calls asking if we need anything, milk, eggs etc…and he lives three towns away, not exactly around the corner. So many have sent me notes, emails, texts, and my classmate who sent a thoughtful, well-timed card with a compassionate message. Many of you are prayer warriors-such a personal, immeasurable gift of love. There have been too many times to mention all of the people who have exuded those verses on my kitchen wall with their generosity and caring, giving of time and themselves unconditionally. I implore you, my reader, to go back, and reread those very verses that started this blog once again, and see if you don’t agree. These words exemplify those who care for us, each in their own way. Thank you all, we accept your kindness with a loving, and humble heart. As the last verse states: “Love never fails.”
Blessing to you.