He is 94 years old and is living with her in assisted living. He gently pats his wife on the arm. She is sitting next to him in her wheelchair.
He says, “My girl is ninety-one years old. She married an older man.” He laughs.
“How long have you been married?” I ask loudly and slowly as I lean in. He is very hard of hearing.
“Seventy-one years. We’ve had our hard times but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. We met in high school, you know? I knew she was the one and only when I met her.”
“What’s the secret?”
“Not taking anything too serious and going to church every Sunday. We went right over here, you know, for sixty years.” He gestures toward the window. “There were times we didn’t talk to each other for a day or so but we never had the energy to stay mad at each other for very long.”
She suffers from a debilitating brain disease and isn’t able to speak. She doesn’t have long. She can smile occasionally but other than that, she is pretty much propped up in her wheelchair and listens. Her eyes are gray, she has a disformed and distended mouth, she can’t move on her own, and she is leaning over and out in her chair. I help her get seated a bit straighter.
“She raised a fine family. She did it all.” He looks at her and pictures on the wall. “The kids are her joy.”
We talked about the Super Bowl. He isn’t able to find it on the TV. I knew it wasn’t on for another week but I helped him check the channels anyway.