This is the first of a series about Jim and his wife, Henrietta. Jim was admitted to hospice for congestive heart failure. He is an 84- year old retired mail carrier. Jim is jovial, friendly and quick to accept and embrace you. He usually calls me “brother.” “Well brother, I’m sure glad you stopped by today. Stop by any time.” When he calls me “brother” I feel like he really means it. Henrietta, to use the vernacular, is “as cute as a bug’s ear.” In an attempt to make Jim jealous, I always give Henrietta a long hug when I leave. I look over at Jim and grin at the same time and he gives me a threatening scowl followed by a big approving smile.
Most of the columns I write follow the same format, a biographical sketch, an interesting story and a lesson to learn. But this time I’m just writing a heartwarming love story, like those depicted in old time movies.
Jim and Henrietta have been married over 60 years and are as in love today as they were when they first married. Jim recently told me how thankful he was to God for his family and for his wife. He declared, “We have wonderful children.” They call them daily, several times a day, to check on them. Jim considers his grandchildren and great grandchildren as “precious” and sincerely told me, “God’s given me the best woman in the world.” Henrietta hit me on the leg, smiled proudly, and added, “And that would be me!”
Jim used a unique approach when he proposed to Henrietta. I don’t know if it was a proposal or “an offer she couldn’t refuse”. You decide. Jim recounted. “I met Henrietta through a friend, Luther, who lived in New Boston. Luther had a big Buick convertible and I was leaning against the trunk when I met her. Luther told me to stop leaning on the trunk because I was scratching the paint. Henrietta was standing on Luther’s front porch.” Henrietta commented, “Luther was just a good friend”. Then she winked and added, “I had other good friends before I met Jim.”
Jim continued, “One thing led to another. I knew I was going to ask her to marry me, but I just didn’t know how. I was as nervous as a cat on a hot rock. We walked over on the levee to the flood wall. Walking on the flood wall wasn’t planned but it showed up at the right time. I asked her to walk out on the flood wall ahead of me. When I got her out there, there was no way back but through me. So I asked her to marry me or I’d throw her over the brink.” Henrietta exclaimed, “He really did threaten me. I looked to the right and then to the left. The water was really high on both sides. And the water was really swirling. I could swim, but not that good. So I agreed to marry him.”
I should have known I couldn’t resist including a moral to the story. When I survey Jim’s and Henrietta’s lives and when I reflect on my time with them, I realize that it’s how they see others, how they view others that makes them so attractive. Jim sees me as a “brother,” his children as “wonderful,” his grandchildren as “precious” and his wife as “the best woman in the world.” It’s hard not to be attracted, and even become a little attached, to someone like that.
I think I need my vision tested, how about you? Let’s sincerely ask God to help us “remove the plank” from our own eyes so that we can see clearly. (Matthew 7:1-5). And I’m convinced when we see clearly, that we will see the hearts, souls and minds of others as holy ground.
“The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.” (Matthew 6:22-23)
Loren Hardin is a social worker with Southern Ohio Medical Center – Hospice and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-356-2525.