Long Love

Just a few weeks before Y2K and the change of the calendar from 1999 to 2000, I met an amazing man who was a patient in the hospital. James was born in December 1899, and he was looking forward to celebrating his 100th birthday and the possibility—as he put it—of living in three different centuries. Though he was quite weak, there was a reasonable expectation he might reach that amazing milestone.

Unfortunately, just a week after he left the hospital, I received a call from Bob, his son-in-law, informing me that James had passed away at home quite peacefully. Bob asked if I’d be willing to perform the memorial service. I was honored to be a part of James’ story.

In preparation for the memorial, I visited James’ home, where I met his wife, Edna, who was 97 years young. She was quite an extraordinary lady: thoughtful, articulate, with a great sense of humor and quite ambulatory. I learned that James and Edna had been married for 78 years.

I recall my brain freezing on those numbers for a few moments, numbers that just seemed unbelievable. I had difficulty imagining what it would be like to live that long.

“As far back as I can remember,” Edna recalled, “we did everything together, and we really did enjoy each other’s company.”

When she left the room, I asked Bob what seemed to be the secret to their long life and their happiness. He shared this wonderful picture with me:

“They have matching leather recliners in the family room,” he said, “and fairly recently I heard them laughing out loud. I went in to see what they were watching on television. When I came into the room, I realized the television wasn’t on. They were holding hands and laughing. They had a strong faith, they loved to be with each other and they didn’t need anybody else or anything else to make them happy!”

by Chaplain Ron Hyrchuk

July 20, 2006