The Story of Dr. Love
It seems as if more and more people I meet these days have convenient or temporary relationships. I grew up in a home where a strong commitment existed between my parents, so I find it hard to understand couples who are ready to split when storms arise. People who are raised in broken homes or where marriage exists only as a convenience or as long as it is self-serving must also have a difficult time comprehending "a commitment that will last until the grave."
When I talk with men who are separating from their spouse for whatever reason, a mental picture of Dr. Love comes to my mind. A few years after meeting this gentleman, I gave him the honorary Doctorate of Love degree because I didn’t know his last name. He needed a "handle" and a title of respect, since he taught me more than most of my college professors.
It happened one evening after visiting a friend’s father at the hospital in my hometown. I was leaving the hospital, and as I passed the nurses’ station, one of my nurse friends said, "Hey, Tom, take a minute and go down to Room 106 and just knock on the door." I said, "Just knock on the door and that’s it?" "Yeah, just knock on the door; that’s all you need to do." I was really suspicious now, no names, no clues as to what I was going to find. So I quizzed the nurse once more. "Jan, don’t I need to know names and details? What am I getting into?" Her expression was one of, “I’m not going to tell you again; just do what I said!”
Without further words, I did an about-face, walked down to Room 106 as instructed, and knocked. Opening the door was a distinguished elderly gent with a fatherly smile and comforting eyes. He was first to speak, with the words, "Come on in, young man, my name is Chester, and this is my bride, Ellen," as he focused his attention on a small bald head on the bed. The “bride” weighed so little that her breathing only caused the covers on the bed to rise a little. She looked like nothing but a small bald head on the bed.
"And what is your name, son?" he asked.
"Tom," I said.
"Honey (talking now to his bride), this is Tom who has come to see you."
Quietly the old gentleman said, "She doesn’t look like much now, but she’s my baby, Tom, and here’s our family. This is our wedding picture; we’ve been married for over 60 years, and this is a picture of our first house. Wasn’t she a beautiful girl, Tom?"
“Yes sir, she’s a beautiful girl, sir," I said.
"Are you married, Tom?"
"Yes sir," I replied.
"Let me tell you something, son. Love your girl; she’s a gift from God and you cannot love her too much. Pamper her, treasure her, and give her love. Love only her and when you come to this point in your life, you can look at your baby and honestly say, "It’s just been you and me, baby." Then, Tom, you can be what you have to be; you won’t have to hide a thing."
I looked around the hospital room as I tried to get my throat back, and I noticed that it wasn’t a hospital room at all; it was a room from their home. The bed tray had a large doily on it and one of those wind-up ticking clocks we used to see so much. There was a braided rug on the floor, probably made by Ellen, and the walls were covered with pictures. If Ellen had come out of the coma for an instant, she would have felt the love of her home and her husband. He had planned it that way.
"Well, Tom, thanks for coming by to see Ellen and me; and remember son, love your baby," he said as he opened the door.
"I will, sir, I will," I said, using all the words I could make. Then walking down the corridor, I passed the nurses’ station and saw my friend Jan. I smiled and said, "Thanks." Thanks for an experience of a lifetime: a lesson in fidelity and commitment and a challenge to a younger married man."
"Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her" (Proverbs 31:28, KJV).