Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
- Romans 12:1-2
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
- John 15:13
“And he suffered in silence. Melba was by his side, typically curled around a pillow, but the spark had vanished from her eyes. She was in the grip of Alzheimer’s. Sometimes she recognized Clarence’s face. His voice still had a calming effect when she became agitated. But after sixty-one years of marriage, she had forgotten his name.
“Clarence was faltering and he knew it. He had promised Melba he would never place her in a nursing home, but her care consumed what little energy he had. It was only a matter of time before his fatigue led to sickness and sickness claimed him too. lf he was going to be there to care for Melba until the end, Clarence knew he had to fix himself, somehow.
“The past could destroy the present-he had seen it happen before.
“When Captain Salisbury, Clarence’s company commander, had returned home from the war, he ﬁnished his degree at Yale, attended Columbia Law School, and went on to become a lawyer at a prestigious New York firm.
“In late November 1950, he spent the weekend at his parents’ mansion on Long Island. He played tennis on Saturday and dined with his mother and his father, a general retired from the National Guard, on Sunday.
“The following morning when his father opened the garage, he was floored by a rush of exhaust fumes. A car had been running all night long in the garage. Inside was his son, Mason.
“Clarence’s commanding ofﬁcer had committed suicide at thirty years old. No one had seen it coming. When the press came calling, General Salisbury hinted at the contents of a note that Mason had left behind. As one reporter wrote, ‘General Salisbury said that since the war his son had been increasingly depressed over the battleﬁeld loss of friends.’
“After surviving more close calls with German shells than he could count, Captain Salisbury had been stalked and cut down by the unseen killer: the mental toll of war.”
- Adam Makos, Spearhead
This is not a rehash of a previous post about Clarence Smoyer, now known as the “hero of Cologne.” Clarence’s mindset mirrored my own. My wife and I faced the Alzheimer’s scare, but the neurologist thinks that her slow decline is due to the side effects from kidney dialysis and the “foggy brain” that results from surgical anesthesia, which lingers longer each time and each time a bit foggier.
This afternoon, she was adamant that I was hiding bad news from her, but we had just discussed the news a half hour before. I have learned. Instead of stating or hinting that we have just talked about it, I took a few deep breaths and in a calm voice, repeated to her what she had actually said a half hour before. Saying, “This is what we need to do. …”
It rips a hole in my heart each time. But 90-95% of the time, she has it together better than I do.
She has multiple health issues and studies are starting to surface that they could all be side effects from prolonged kidney dialysis. Yet, she sat at her brother’s side, holding his hand when he passed away from kidney failure, refusing dialysis.
But what this post is all about is all those married couples that die within hours of each other, days, weeks, a few months. When your every breath is taking care of your spouse and then the spouse is no longer there. …
I have my blogging, but my wife has nothing due to the scattering of her attention span. She would have to move in with our younger son, and the children will keep her going.
But I am praying fervently for those who “promised Melba …” You know, those that are a living sacrifice for the other half of themselves. And most would say that they would lay down their life for that spouse. In a way, they do. That’s why there is so little in the tank that is left when the spouse goes first.
As a friend said in a comment some time ago, getting old is not for sissies.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.
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