Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Love Story

---------A Love Story By Merlene

They were in love for 75 years. She was his wife for 73. It is hard for him to realize that so much time has gone by since the day he started loving Cleona because that day is so clear in his mind. He tells me often how fortunate he was to have her close to him through all those years. And I am fortunate too because I, their daughter, grew up in the light of that bright love and it still brightens my life now that she is gone.She was considered plain. He was movie star handsome, but her true beauty shone from within her for all to see. Her red hair earned her the nickname “Red” all through grade school and high school. She had lots of friends but no boy friends before him. She was more interested in her studies anyway and hoped to be one of the first girls from her small school to go to college and then become a teacher. Then when she was a junior a new student appeared in her school. When she first saw him she got her first crush. Not only was he the most gorgeous guy she had every seen but he was smart and nice. He was quiet and kept somewhat to himself. But she could see the goodness in him even without getting to know him well. He graduated without ever noticing her much. And someone told her that he had gone away to college so she gave up any hope of ever getting to know him any better, but knew she would always remember him. He did go to college, but it was 1931 and a week after he got there he was notified that his father had lost all his money and he had to go home. For the next year he worked on the farm and helped his dad in the saw mill, occasionally driving an old pickup truck into town to see a few friends. He didn’t have any girl friends. But Stella, a friend of his brother’s, had a crush on him and, though he wasn’t interested, he sometimes found himself thrown together with her. One day when he was in town his brother came to him and said a group of kids were going out to the river to roast some hot dogs and do whatever kids did in those days – which was certainly different from what kids do these days. He said all right and loaded his pickup up with some kids including Stella who snuggled up by him in the front seat. While they were at the river, though, he noticed Cleona and started talking to her. She had just graduated and was preparing for college. Though he knew who she was, he was seeing her for the first time. She was sweet and warm and he found himself entranced. He suggested that they go to the truck where they could talk easier. He couldn’t believe how easy she was to talk to. Later when it was time to go home, Stella climbed into the front seat of the truck next to the driver’s seat. But he asked his brother to drive so he could sit in the back and talk to Cleona. Stella was visably angry but he didn’t care. For the first time in his life he had found someone he was really attracted to, someone he felt he could talk to forever. But she was leaving for college in a few days, so he told her goodbye and wished her well. A few weeks later he was delivering apples and went through the town where her college was. He decided to gear up his courage and go see if he could find her. Fortunately she was in her dorm room and they spent a few hours getting to know each other a little better. When she came home for Thanksgiving he went to see her. He found out her grandfather had just died and she couldn’t leave. So they spent a few more hours talking on her front porch and then he knew this was the woman for him. And they had never even had a date.From then on they saw each whenever she was home from college. After two years she took a teaching job near her home town and then they could see each other often. They wanted to get married, but it was against the rules at the school where she taught so they got married and kept it secret until the school year ended.She knew how much he wanted to go to college. And she wanted to do whatever she could to make that happen. It took several years before it was possible but together they did it. They moved to a small farm owned by her parents. They worked the farm, she taught school, and they had two babies. Finally he enrolled in a college too far away to go back and forth. So he stayed there and only came home on weekends. While he was away during the week she took care of us (my brother and me), taught school nearby, and did farm work. He loves to tell this story because he knows it is only because of her love for him and her desire for him to realize his dream that it was possible. During the war he quit college and taught school because it was his way of doing his part while other men were away at war. When the war ended he went back. After he graduated he became a minister and we moved to a different state. Quite a move for a girl from a small town in the Midwest. She didn’t mind as long as they were together. They weren’t together as much as she would have liked because he traveled for the church. But I never heard her complain. They were happy with the life they had together. And he simply adored her. He was proud of her and he appreciated her. He looked at her with so much love and so much pride that one would have thought she was queen of something. And she was. Queen of his heart. And so it was for 73 years. Shortly after their 70th wedding anniversary they went into a nursing home together. Still they were mentally and socially active and happy to be together. He loved taking care of her, making sure she got her insulin shots in the right amount, as he had for years. And she in turn made sure he got his eye drops and that all his needs were met. They were an example for anyone who got to know them, as they had been their whole lives. I have never known two people to be so loved by so many people as they were. Then I got a call that she was having chest pains and was in the emergency room. I went to be with them. By the time I got there he had been by her side for several hours and still refused to leave even to get something to eat or to take a rest. It was after midnight, they had put in a heart stent, she had talked to us, and was resting before I was able to get him to go home and go to bed. Another call a week later. She was not doing well. She was back in the hospital. When I got there that day she was getting some tests so I sent him home and I waited in her hospital room. When she came back she was very quiet for a while. And then she began to talk: “I wish I could tell you what happened to me while I was gone because I want you to tell my grandchildren, but I don’t have the words to describe it. I had to lay on a cold table for a long time and I was shivering. Suddenly I felt a “presence” and it seemed to wrap me in a warm blanket. I became very warm and felt that presence tell me that everything was going to be all right.” As she spoke there was a spirit about her that I had never been aware of before. It drew me to her and for two hours we held hands and talked about her life. She had no regrets and felt so blessed to have had the life she did. Especially she felt blessed to have my dad to love her.We took her back to her “home at Rosewood” shortly after. When she told my dad about her experience, he believed that meant she was going to get all right. But she didn’t. She was in congestive heart failure and a week later they called in hospice. He protested because he knew she was going to get all right and there was no need. But he was told if they didn’t accept hospice care that she would have to go back to the hospital so he gave in. But he was angry. He was upset with the hospice nurses because they were just trying to keep her comfortable and not make her well. He was sharp with me – one of the few times in my life – because I was trying to talk to him about the possibility that she might not get better. He said, “I am just not ready to let her go.” She knew he was giving everyone a hard time and apologized to the nurses when he didn’t hear. But she knew too that he wanted her to stay and so she was reluctant to leave him.The spirit that had been with her in the hospital never left her. She was serene and loving, and being in her presence was a joy and a gift. While he was gone to breakfast one morning, I was laying in bed with her, holding her in my arms, telling her how much I loved her. She said, “I know you do. You show me in so many ways that you do. But I know I can’t last much longer. And when I go, I don’t want you to grieve. I have had 93 years and I am grateful for every one of them. I want you to be happy that I have had such a wonderful life. I am grateful for so many things. But most of all I am grateful for your daddy and the love he has given me every day for 73 years. Be happy for that.”When he came back he sat down beside her and took hold of her hand. She said to him, “I don’t know how much longer I can go on like this. “ I watched the dawning realization fill his face. She was staying only for him. “Oh, Sweetheart” he said, “if you need to go, you go. I don’t want you to stay if you need to leave. I will be all right. I promise you I will be all right.” She looked at him and said, “All right. Goodbye.” And closed her eyes. He and I looked at each other wondering if this was it. But in a few minutes she opened her eyes. Then he and I laughed. But he had released her. Two days later she died. Those two days were sublimely happy for all of us. We rejoiced in the love that filled that room. He was kind to the hospice nurses and they couldn’t believe he was the same person. I felt embraced by her serenity and felt anointed to be in the presence of such everlasting love. When she was gone, he kept his word. He let her go. And two years later he speaks often of how much he misses her but never of wanting her back. He believes he is keeping his promise to her to be at peace without her. He recently had a dream. It was very early in the morning and he opened his eyes to see her standing by his bed. She looked to be in her 40’s and she was beautiful. Her eyes were bright and she seemed vibrantly alive. She never said anything but lay down beside him and gave him an embrace. Then she got up and she was gone. He jumped up out of bed and called her name. Oh, it was a dream, he realized. But he is not so sure.

Sunday Sermon

Posted from the Christian singles site:

11/9/08 Sermon: To Say Thank You to God

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

>> For the saved followers of Christ to say thank you to God, they must surrender themselves to Him. Their bodies, their lifestyle, their mind and their worship. We are a living sacrifice when we turn over to God the chips of our life.
Work chip, children chip, sex chip, ego chip, food chip, hobby chip, prayer/church chip and decision chip. Turning ourselves, surrendering ourselves our lives over to God can be scary but its worth it.

Psalm 84:9-12 Behold O God our shield and look upon the face of thine anointed. For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield. The Lord will give grace and glory. No good thing will He withold from them that walk uprightly. O Lord of Hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.


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