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Look of adoration

July 29, 2014

My wife, Billie, and I were in a cafeteria eating. I looked up as an elderly man pushed a woman in a wheelchair to a table behind my wife. Cafeteria attendants brought the food trays for both the man and woman. The attendants set the plates and bowls of food on the table and left with the trays. We were sitting two tables away.

The man took the silverware from the napkin and tucked the napkin into the woman’s collar like a bib. He rearranged the bowls of vegetables and dessert in front of her. As he did these tasks for the woman, her head tilted back looking up at his face. Her eyes never left his face. She was smiling with a radiant glow on her face, showing total adoration for the man. He moved his chair closer to the corner of the table, near the woman.

As he sat down and offered a blessing for the meal, she bowed her head. When he said, “Amen,” she raised her head and looked at him again with that glow of love.

The man fed the woman a bite and wiped her mouth with a napkin. He alternated between feeding her and eating his own meal. Her eyes never left his face. When she finished chewing a bite, she smiled with that look of total love. Her love for him lit up her entire face.

Tears formed and began running down my cheek. My wife could not see the couple, since they were behind her, and asked what was wrong. I described what I was watching and she said, “You’re getting mighty sentimental in your old age.” I couldn’t help it because the sight of this woman’s love for her caregiver was priceless.

I saw a similar look in the eyes of a classmate’s wife at an Anson school reunion a year before Billie died. I saw a friend caring for his invalid wife. I found out that she had suffered a brain tumor and could do nothing for herself. He not only had to bathe her, he had to dress her, comb her hair, apply makeup and spoon feed her. As I watched him feed her a snack at our reception and then wipe her mouth, I saw the love for each other in their eyes.

I also saw that look in Billie’s eyes a few times during her last days. Some times she would get angry with me about something, but other times she would look at me with that look knowing that I was doing my best to take care of her. That look was priceless and made the time spent caregiving worth every minute.

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