July 25, 2013
After a long day of work and late night of baking, at midnight I was captivated by “The Notebook” – a movie I’ve seen just once years ago. I see why people strongly resonate with the seemingly star-crossed lovers, who moved on to live physically separate but spiritually connected lives. Not only would they overcome seven years of separation and differing social backgrounds, but they chose to seek a passionate love despite their divergent personalities. Like many, the quote that echoed in my mind before I fell asleep that evening was when the lead character, Allie, just discovered her fiancée was in town and was tearfully leaving in her car. Before she left, her long lost love, Noah, pleaded and said:
“…it’s not gonna be easy. It’s gonna be really hard. And we’re gonna have to work at this every day, but I want to do that, because I want you. I want all of you, forever, you and me, every day. Will you do something for me? Please? Will you just picture your life for me? 30 years from now, 40 years from now, what’s it look like? If it’s with that guy, go! Go! I lost you once, I think I could do it again, if I thought it’s what you really wanted. But don’t you take the easy way out…”
I thought about working at love every, single day.
I thought about choosing what you really want.
I thought about life 40 years from now.
And then I thought about the elderly couples I’ve been blessed to meet and serve in my years in the elderly carehome industry. I thought about Ruth Putney, a loving woman whose marriage certificate lays in my diary collection and whose love poem still hangs on our bedroom walls – remnants given to me because she and her husband, Art, never had kids. In his last days, he struggled with leaving this world because he didn’t want to leave Ruth. He made us promise we would take care of her – and we did – until she passed one year after he departed because of depression.
I thought about a recent tour I did for a daughter whose father is looking for a master bedroom, so he and his wife with dementia could live together, even though she doesn’t remember him and he doesn’t need assistance.
It’s commonplace to witness touching love stories of partners who visit daily and still provide solace in their presence, even though the other person is often bedridden, sickly or stricken with memory loss. We often forget that one day we will all walk down that same path, when our bodies become brittle, slower and tired, when we lose control of our bodily functions and when our mind begins to deteriorate for reasons still unknown.
It’s rare when you come across an elderly person who hasn’t lost their memory. Dementia, a form of Alzheimers Disease, is so common and so painful for families to experience. Most often, these people recall their younger years – the town they grew up in, their parents, work and military service. Some can remember they have children, but most don’t recall past the age of 30. They will ask the same question every ten minutes and feel uncomfortable intuitively knowing of their forgetfulness and sadness in their family member’s silence.
It’s not easy getting old and we often forget about this inevitable journey we are all walking. It’s hard to make good decisions about your well being and personal relationships when it’s easy in the short-term to consume unhealthy meals or avoid quality time with your partner for days, weeks, months or years. Add work and children into the equation and it’s easy to get lost in mundane life activities without investing in long-term desires.
I think we all want to grow old with someone.
That’s where the hope lies when we commit to a partner – that even if we are rich or poor, healthy or sick…that only death would depart us. I have learned that it doesn’t matter if the person has indifferent hobbies, forgets to buy gifts or fails to express love daily. What matters is if that person is committed to you. What matters is that person doesn’t fail you when your body starts to decline. What matters is you don’t give up.
Imagine your life 50 years from now…
“The Notebook” – great love story
On our wedding day
This is one of our first photos together.