A love story between two unlikely souls. The story of Charles William and of Shirley Ann.
He was a tall slender 6 foot, 2 inch football player from southern Mississippi with the accent to melt the heart of any eligible girl. Fresh home from war he moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma to help his aunt and uncle care for his ailing grandmother. There he stood and across the room a petite 4 foot, 11 inch beauty with coal black hair and perfectly blue eyes caught his attention. They met at a community dance, and knew that this indeed was love, but you see, this was not your ordinary kind of love.
Nuptials were celebrated, apartments furnished and 10 months later a baby welcomed– A little girl, Melinda Jane. The three of them quickly out grew their garage apartment and relocated to a home, of course only to make room for baby number two, a bouncing boy, William Joseph. Love grows big in small places, for you see, this was not your ordinary kind of love.
Onward time marched. Jobs were lost and accounts low, the bottle always full of cheer. It was those middle years, that the waters got rough. Waves high and oceans too deep, troubles rose higher and woes blew stronger, but this woman, she was on her knees and she could have took on the seven seas for her faith anchored her soul. Her prayer was for redemption and for salvation, you see, this was not your ordinary kind of love.
Steadfast and unfailing, the waters calmed and life was livable once again. Years of laughter and travel were shared, grandchildren welcomed and memories held close. Nights spend charcoaling on the porch and seasons spent in stadiums and arenas, huddling together under umbrellas, all bundled up with ear muffs and stocking caps, still she looked up at him– tall and still handsome, and her perfectly blue eyes still pierced his soul, for you see, this was not your ordinary kind of love.
As the years drew longer, his memories grew shorter, his love for her remained the same. It started with a slip here and an “oops” there, but soon she knew something was to blame. The union of one had to again become two, and away he moved to a “home” for those who suffered similar pain. Faces grew unfamiliar and words became fewer but his smile was balm to the ache in her marrow. Still today, in the arctic weather of pure loves month, she drives daily to her groom. He lay there waiting, for a drink, for a spoon, for a sound of the familiar past he once knew. Once again he will be made new, but until that day, that oh-so-glorious day, she will be there, by his side, on her knees, for you see, this is not your ordinary kind of love.
Meet my grandmother and grandfather, married for 54 years.
My grandfather has suffered from Alzheimer’s for 8 years. He has been placed in alternative care for 6 years and immobile for the last year. Every day, unless barred by illness, weather or other extreme circumstance my grandmother visits him. She feeds him, gives him water and looks after his wellbeing. This friends, is “in sickness and in health” fleshed out in every manner. The courage and strength it takes her and other’s who care for loved ones with Alzheimers (and other incapacitating illnesses) is insurmountable.
When we approach this Valentines holiday, remember, this is real life, this is real love, this is real surrender… The cute phrases, the cliche cartoons, the bouquets of flowers, they are dust when held in comparison to a sacrificial love that took decades of tears, hard work and faith to sustain.
Hats off, and may I strive to love so hard.