Sunday, September 16, 2007

50 Fathoms of Love

Every year for the past five years or so, at this particular time of the year especially, a family that I served always comes to mind. This specific family has flavored a great deal of my thinking when it comes to the finalization of my life. I know I am majorly concerned with the experiences a family has to endure after the death of a loved one but rarely do I ever mention the actual feelings of the deceased prior to the cessation of their life. It's true I am always thinking about and relaying stories of how families cope after the fact but hardly do I ever explain what went on before I've met them in my arrangement office. The story that follows may seem trite to some but I for one find it to positively inspiring.

All of his life he had always taken care of her to the best of his ability. He had been a welder, never made a tremendous amount of money and was not completely enthused with his choice of generating an income but he had always managed to keep the entire family happy all the while saving for the day when they could go on that long awaited honeymoon they never had. When they were first married, she was reluctant to tell me, she had been pregnant and he barely made an income. The way of thinking at that time was that if you got a girl pregnant it was a simple procedure afterwards; you just got married. This wasn't too hard for them since they had been a "couple" since grade school. This happened in the last year of high school for them both.

As the years progressed, they had more children, his job became a career and they eventually bought a modest home. They had so many plans through the years but they weren't all accomplished, mainly because there were more important things that had to be attended to at the time. As I mentioned in my previous post, plans sometimes have a way of disappointing. The children married one by one and later the grandchildren were born and he continued to work, and work, and work still trying to keep their heads above water as costs rose higher than his income.

He beat the cancer the first go round and the two of them were finally at a point where they felt it was possible and perhaps advisable for them to retire. Most of what he had put away had been spent on their sicknesses but there was still some left; they had been frugal and had managed to amass a nice chunk despite his lower than average income. They now had the time as well as the money to finally go on that honeymoon that was 50 years overdue. The years that they had been married seemed to be full of laughter as well as heartache but they were always deeply in love.

The plans were set and in 5 months, on their 50th wedding anniversary they were finally going. It may have taken them what seemed like an eternity to do it but this was one dream that they were going to see come true and they decided to do it up big.

It was 3 months before they were going to go when he was again diagnosed with cancer. This time the doctors didn't think he was going to be as fortunate as before since this time he had an extremely aggressive cancer that was known to kill and it was in multiple parts of his body. They initially did everything in their power to fight it but it was obvious he was waning. She immediately suggested cancelling the trip since they would need that money to take care of him and still had a chance of getting some of their payment back, she also knew deep down that this was not something he should even be considering in his condition; he refused, telling her he was going, they were going. They had planned their entire life for this moment and nothing was going to stop them. After she had privately expressed her concerns to his doctor, he explained to her that if they could they should try to keep the plans, if for nothing else, to give her husband a "sense of tomorrow" even though he felt it probably would never happen for them; she understood and agreed.

The day they left for Greece he wasn't doing too well but as the day progressed he seemed to perk up a bit; he was actually chipper. The trip had included a cruise around the Greek Islands and they had the largest suite on the ship. Those first few days were the happiest they had spent together in years. She was almost able to forget that she was soon going to lose him. He was acting like he had maybe 20 years prior. In their heads they were young again and felt like they had just fallen in love. They were pampered by the ships crew and the ships doctor had full knowledge of his condition as well as a copy of records. All of their meals were brought to their suite and they ate on their balcony where afterwards they would dance. They had decided that they weren't going to get off at the various ports but rather just spend time together and they reminisced of their past. They laughed, cried, joked about the crazy things that had happened over the years; their life together had been wonderful.

On the morning of day 5 she woke up to find him cuddling her but...he was cold...stiff. From that point on all she remembers is confusion, tears and ship to shore phone calls. We got him home for her and did the necessary things to bury him where she wanted. The funeral was well attended and seemed to be what she had wanted.

Here is what got to me and does every year as I prepare to go on our annual cruise. They had a simple life, they loved each other deeply, and in their darkest moment their love just seemed to strengthen. The story itself isn't exceptional, I know that, this is not some extraordinarily different family or couple, but this is a totally selfless duo here. He was on his death bed and wanted to give her whatever he had left, she was about to lose a lifelong mate and was only concerned for him, not for her loss. This is the inspiration. Love so deep, that the person you're with matters so much more to you than is possibly imaginable. I think I would like to die holding the one I love.


MedStudentWife said...

Oh my DS - you have me in tears.

There is a is today - not some tomorrow.

paisley said...

what a beautiful sentiment..

Agnes Mildew said...

A fantastic telling of a very inspirational tale, DS. I completely agree with your final sentence.

Linda and her Surroundings said...

A very humbling story. There is something bright and strong about Love that makes everything else rather pale.

Matty said...

A wonderful story. If we can learn anything from's to not put off your dreams. Hope you don't mind but I've mentionned your blog on my latest post.
You have a very interesting blog.

pat said...

I just stopped by "via" Matty's site and I have to tell you I loved this story. I do family genealogy and one of things I love to do though many people think I am crazy is to walk through cemeteries, the older the better. Every grave tells a story of the life that once walked upon this earth. As a matter of fact I photographed three cemeteries this past weekend which I will eventually post on my "journey to the past blog" once I complete the background research. Your posts are interesting and I will be back for another visit.

deathsweep said...

Thank you all for coming by!