Have you ever gotten into a rabbit hole of seeing too much hate shared on social media? Our media can get so dark and heavy, and it can be overwhelming. Regardless of what side you stand on, although I do feel like social media only shows us a glimpse of a bigger picture, I feel like we need a good story shared. So I’m going to share one that needs to be told.
On a Friday in January, I drove to Virginia with my sister. On that Saturday, I attended my aunt’s funeral. She is my dad’s brother’s wife. She has had Alzheimer’s for the last twelve years, and had been in a nursing home for seven. We are celebrating her life because we know her heart belonged to Jesus, and it was time for Him to call her home. We are comforted because we know she is restored and worshipping Jesus. Her life was spent loving others and loving The Lord. But that’s not the only good story I’m sharing. The story I want to tell is of my Uncle Larry.
This man has not had an easy life. He went through brain surgery as an 18 year old and was delayed from graduating high school for three years. He met the love of his life, Hilda, and married her in 1970. He lost his father the following year to a heart attack. I never had the chance to meet my grandaddy. His sister followed from pancreatic cancer in 1992. He and Hilda lived next to my grandma for my entire life (but I know it was longer than that), until my grandma’s health started to deteriorate following complications and infection from a surgery when she was 84. Uncle Larry and my dad had to make the difficult decision to put my Grammie into a nursing home. Uncle Larry and Aunt Hilda went and visited her almost every day in the nursing home for four years, until she also went to be with Jesus, and Grandaddy, and Aunt Carol, in 2007.
During that time (you do the math), Hilda was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She eventually was no longer able to care for herself, as she was confused and risked getting lost. Larry had to also make the heartbreaking decision for her to go to a nursing home, despite her medication to slow the disease.
At this point, you’re probably wondering where is the feel good story I want to share. Ready for it? He visited her every day. Every day for seven years he went and spent time with her, and fed her, as she got to the point she could no longer do it herself. Sometimes he went twice in a day. For both Grammie and Hilda, he would read scripture and pray over them every evening when he visited. He would also bring a CD of worship music to play in her room. The only times he didn’t go were when earlier this winter the nursing home had to close its doors for ten days to visitors because of a flu outbreak plaguing the residents and staff. Larry himself got the flu during that time. I wonder where he picked it up? Outside of these times of illness, where we can count on our fingers the number of days he missed visiting his love, he went every day. He believes she recognized him up until that break. Who are we to say otherwise?
Following those few days, her health began to decline, and she went on to be with Jesus. He was with her when it happened. He had been with her all day and gone home to take his medicine. The staff called him to tell him to hurry as it wouldn’t be long. When he returned, he told her he was there, and after five more minutes together, she went to see Jesus.
The week following, Larry went through all the difficult decisions of what needed to be taken care of for the service and burial. He chose songs like “It Is Well,” and we mourned his loss in the same place we mourned my Grammie twelve years prior. He greeted family and guests with joy and hospitality. Just before the service began, the undertaker came to let him know they would be closing the casket and if there were any final goodbyes. I watched this man, who has not had an easy life of loss and pain, walk up to his love, and kiss her forehead one more time and return to his seat. I saw him sob and mourn his partner, who we know is in a better place, while his brother, my dad, cried next to him.
This is love. This is devotion. This is a partnership, a marriage. This is a man who never misses an opportunity to show his loved ones how much he cares. This is what I want to share. What should be shared. The good. There is good in this world. There are good people who love Jesus and love others. There are people who are real-life living The Notebook stories. He is to be commended and admired, for loving and cherishing, in sickness and in health, until death does part.
Larry will only ever read this if a family member shows it to him. He won’t see me share it on social media because he doesn’t have it. This story isn’t for him, because he doesn’t need it. He doesn’t need to be glorified, he wants that for Jesus. This story is for you. To know there is good. There is a good God who loves people. There are people on this earth living out His call to love others. Larry loves. I want to love others like Jesus loves. Like Larry loves.