A dear couple that I know through my work at a local non-profit stopped by today with a gift of FOUR pints of strawberries, freshly picked from a local grower. They are bright red with brilliant green tops and you can smell their sweetness before you ever bite into that delicious flesh. Abby and I have already gone through close to half of them.
This couple is no ordinary husband and wife. I met them before they retired, before they had time to pick strawberries in the middle of the day in the middle of the week. The Mrs. served on the finance council and was winding down a very productive career as a businesswoman. She was sharp, very sharp. The Mr. was getting set to retire from years of self-employment. Over the next few years, they indeed retired and settled into the quiet years of garden puttering, wood working, bike riding, trips to see children and grandchildren... and then the Mrs. was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
Her husband has not let this diagnosis change who they are to a large extent. They still travel to see the children and grandchildren, even though the Mrs. can't always remember where they are going and whom they are going to see. Volunteer work (including strawberry deliveries!) is still undertaken. She is still neatly dressed and if he doesn't quite match things as she would have, or her hair isn't as precisely combed as it was before, no one would ever say. Most would never notice. You can't get past the gorgeous, child-like happy smile that is almost always on her face.
Watching him maintain, at what must be great sacrifice to himself, her safe, secure world is stunningly beautiful. She watches every move he makes, for he has become all that she can remember, her only touchstone and connection with what is real. Even if she doesn't know why, can't remember much of who she is, who they are, she knows she is loved. Sweetly, gently. Forever.
Everytime I fish a strawberry out of the basket, I think how wonderful that kind of love is. How beautiful to witness the sweetness of love, not in the blush of youth and joy when life rises up to meet you, but in the wane of life, as days grow shorter and life grows harder. How beautiful.
1 year ago