By Mike Wilcox, Publisher
Last weekend I met Alvin for the first time. My wife and I had moved in to a new home and Alvin happens to be one of our neighbors. We got to talking, as neighbors do, Sunday afternoon, and I walked away truly amazed.
We had seen Alvin working in his yard and on his pontoon boat. He had two big boxer dogs and didn’t seem at all friendly. He is one of those guys that never waved and gave you a gruff retort if you were to say “hi” or “have a nice day.”
What we didn’t know as we began to have a conversation, was that Alvin had a wife. Even though Alvin was highly visible in his yard, and the two boxers were always patrolling his yard, there was never any sign of his wife.
And for good reason. Alvin’s wife was victimized by a terrible stroke fourteen years ago. She can’t walk, can’t talk and is totally dependent on Alvin for the simplest of tasks including using the bathroom, shower or brushing her teeth. It would be a sad situation indeed, except Alvin and his wife have managed this existence for fourteen years, and pray to God each day that they can have another fourteen years together.
If this isn’t love, I don’t know what is. Alvin with the gruff exterior, spending day in and day out, taking care of his invalid wife, and having done it for fourteen years. And he’s happy to do it. He says he gets no greater joy than to see the smile on her face when she awakens every morning. He says she is happiest when he wheels her out to the boat dock and carefully slides her on the pontoon, and they take a slow spin around the lake.
He’s not the first husband I’ve seen do this. My father took care of my mother, who had been stricken with dementia. Unbeknownst to my four siblings and I, my mother was slowly deteriorating from that horrible disease known as Alzheimer’s that robs you of your memory. My parents lived in Florida, away from their children, and my dad did everything he could to shield mom’s condition from us. He wanted us to remember her as she was 5 or 10 or 20 years ago.
We found out much later, than he had been taking care of every aspect of her life for at least four or five years- feeding her, changing her Depends, and showering her. He gave up his daily golf game cold turkey so that he could be with her 24-7. Until he died, he was there for her in total- an amazing act of selflessness by an amazing man.
If this isn’t love, I don’t know what is. My dad was my hero long before it was revealed that he was my mom’s 24-7 caregiver. But when this was revealed it solidified his greatness in my eyes. To some extent I see that same greatness in Alvin. It takes one heckuva person to do what he does, and to have done it for fourteen years. He could have easily admitted his wife to an assisted living home. But he didn’t and both his wife and he cherish every moment they have together.
If this isn’t love, I don’t know what is. God bless my father in heaven and thank you Dear Lord we arranging this meeting with Alvin. I am a much better person because of it.