Emily and Robert:  A love story

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Our story starts in a bathroom.   Emily is brushing her teeth and thinking about her beloved husband Robert.  Emily is 85 years old and Robert is 87 years old.  Emily and Robert have had a long life together.  Often happy, but often tumultuous with the stress of family, money and work disrupting the natural harmony of things.  Through all the ups and downs, their love for each other was the one constant of their lives.  Despite all the cliches about true love and being made for each other and all the other tropes one hears about lovers, no two people ever loved each other more than Emily and Robert.

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For the past ten years, Emily had been taking care of Robert.  After he had his second stroke, Robert needed help to dress and shower each morning.  He was no longer able to take care of his house hold chores and he needed help to do the many activities that he had once taken for granted.  Robert was a proud man but Emily was also very stubborn and she showed her love for Robert in her dedication to helping him.  Robert was appreciative and demonstrated it by doing all he could to minimize the burden for Emily.  He never complained and he never forget to say thank you to Emily no matter how many times she helped him.

An-older-couple-sitting-i-0072Emily and Robert had been married for nearly 65 years.  They were both in their early twenties when they met in college.  It was love at first sight.  Their parents wanted them to wait to finish college but after a brief whirlwind romance, they simply eloped.  They surprised everyone when they came back to school and finished their college degrees.  Robert became an engineer and Emily was a school teacher for many years.  The careers they chose suited their personalities.  They were known as hard faithful workers.  Not once in over forty years did any employer ever have a complaint or problem with either Robert or Emily.  After forty-five years, they both chose to retire so they could spend more time together after Robert’s first stroke.

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The saddest part of their lives was their inability to have their own children.  However, they made up for this by becoming foster parents.  Over the course of their years together, they had helped to raise nearly twenty-five foster children.  The social service agency responsible for the placements always said that they could not have found two more loving parents.  As parents, they were strict with high expectations but they were always fair and compassionate.  They latino-couplewere loved by all their foster children who often returned home to visit or to simply stop by with a bit of news or something to eat.  Robert and Emily could not have loved any children of their own more than they loved their foster children.

 

Emily continued brushing her teeth and getting ready for bed.  The light was off in their bedroom and the bathroom adjoined the bedroom.  Emily kept up a running dialogue with Robert about her day and the trip she had taken to visit one of her sick foster children.  Robert never answered so Emily just assumed he was reading or perhaps had fallen asleep.  Even after all these years, they still slept together.  Robert always slept closest to the bathroom door and Emily slept on the other side closest to the window.

lady surprisedEmily finished brushing her teeth and then took her nightly pills.  She shut off the bathroom light and started out to the bedroom.  The light by Robert’s side of the bed was on and Emily started to say something to Robert when abruptly she stopped.  Her eyes fell upon an empty bed that was undisturbed.  The sheets and bed covers had not been moved.  Emily was surprised and shocked.  Where was bedroom at nightRobert?  Suddenly, Emily remembered.  Robert had died the previous week and had been buried two days before on Saturday.  Tears came to her eyes.  What would she do without her Robert?  She was all alone now.  No one to go to bed with.  No one to talk to at night.  No one who would regularly listen to her complaints and problems about the world.

Being the survivor of a pair of lovers is a terrible burden.  Most of us want to go first.  However, neither Emily or Robert had ever wanted to be the first to go for both knew how hard it would be for the other.  Sadly, someone must go first.  The survivor is left with a vacuum in their life and memories.  The vacuum can never be filled and the memories cannot be forgotten.  Events that happened many years ago seem like they just happened yesterday and events of a few days past seem like they happened eons ago.  Memories do not respect a correlation to physical time.

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Emily will die in five years.  In between today and her death, she will experience joy, sadness, pain and a certainty that life will once more resume for her and Robert.  She believes that somewhere in this vast universe, her atoms and Robert’s atoms will coalesce and the two of them will again be united.  As sure as you are reading this story, Robert and Emily will live joyfully ever after in a place where life and death can no longer challenge their happiness.

Time for Questions:

What is love?  Have you ever been in love?  How do you know?  Who was the greatest love of your life?  Why?  Is there anything more important than love?

Life is just beginning.

“The real act of marriage takes place in the heart, not in the ballroom or church or synagogue. It’s a choice you make – not just on your wedding day, but over and over again – and that choice is reflected in the way you treat your husband or wife.” —  Barbara De Angelis
 

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jeanine
    Jul 27, 2017 @ 20:37:52

    What is love? The dictionary defines love as an intense feeling of deep affection. Other synonyms include fondness, tenderness, warmth, intimacy, attachment endearment ,devotion, adoration, compassion and the list goes on. I have often heard of undying love, which to me would mean that no matter what the other person has done, good or bad, undying love is unconditional, and in my opinion, rare.
    I have only had one true love in my life, and that is my husband who I met at 16. I know it must be love because of the many times we had to work through our problems and forgive each other for being human. I believe it is love because there is nobody in this world I would rather be spending my life with but him. Your blog described a beautiful love story between two long married people. A feeling of fear and dread comes over me when I think of the future and the inevitable. It is this feeling that makes me think it might be better if I go first
    . 
    Is there anything more important than love. Not according to Jesus Christ who said that the greatest commandment was to love God and our neighbors as ourselves. If the world was filled with love, and hate was non-existent, we would be living in sublime peace.

    Reply

  2. johnpersico
    Jul 28, 2017 @ 00:15:02

    Thanks Jeanine for your thoughts. But if you go first, who will take care of John? I think about the future for Karen and I as we age and I wonder how we will be able to take care of each other. There are two components that I think are important. One is love and the other is money. We need enough money to remain self supporting and to continue with an independent lifestyle. However, the money is not as important as our love and compassion for each other.

    Reply

  3. jeanine
    Jul 28, 2017 @ 07:45:04

    Good thoughts! I have also considered l how John and Jennifer would be if I were gone. I realize it is a selfish thought to want to go first to spare myself of the heartache, but what pain do I leave in the past. Fortunately, we do not know the future and we cannot change it. We can however plan for that future and money is a concern, but as you said, not more important than that love that bonds two people

    Reply

  4. Jean-Paul
    Aug 13, 2017 @ 01:43:33

    John money is not important. To a certain degree, but in these times and days money is used for Nike, video games, having a new car. while you could run a bike, or have a cheaper car like a ford. This story reminds me of The notebook

    Reply

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