Thursday, August 21, 2003

Marne & Mildred

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die….” ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1,2

This week I would like to share a tribute I wrote for a friend of mine named Marne who lost the woman he loved for nearly fifty years, Mildred. It was compiled from comments Marne made to me expressing the deep affection he felt for Mildred.

Here is an excerpt from an email I received from Marne just a few days before the funeral:

“Tuesday will be a sad day for me. My tear reservoir has run dry for now. Who knows what tomorrow will bring.... I have no idea how long I will be at the cemetery. I will hate to leave there and leave Mildred behind. Tears are starting to flow now, so this is all.”

The following piece is something I wrote in an attempt to describe the special relationship that Marne and Mildred shared.

Marne & Mildred

(A love story)

Marne and Mildred never married, but their love endured longer than most marriages –nearly fifty years. There was never anyone else for either one of them. He was the love of her life and she was the love of his.

Marne took care of his mother until she died and Mildred did the same for her mother. Marne would visit Mildred’s home almost daily where they enjoyed spending time together, sharing meals or just watching TV.

When Mildred’s health failed and she had to go into a nursing home, Marne continued to visit her on a regular basis.

Mildred’s face always lit up when Marne walked in the room. She couldn’t communicate very well – only a few words here and there, but he could tell by the look in her eyes that she was glad he came.

“If she’s good, then I’m good,” he’d say. “And if she’s unhappy, then I’m unhappy.”

As time went on and Mildred’s health continued to decline, Marne said, “I have more or less lost the best gift the good Lord has given me.” He tried to be thankful for all the good years he had with her, but just the thought of Mildred preceding him in death made him sad. Some nights he would shed a bucket of tears before finally falling asleep.

Eventually Marne hated to answer the phone for fear that it would be the nursing home calling to tell him that something had happened to Mildred.

Then one day that dreaded call came. Marne rushed to the hospital and stayed by Mildred’s bedside around the clock, holding her hand and telling her he loved her. “It was sad watching her gasping for air and wearing an oxygen mask,” he said. “I shed tears until there were no more tears to shed.”

Two nights later, Marne thought Mildred was improving so he went home to get some much needed sleep. He’d only been asleep for four hours when the telephone rang again. “Come quickly,” the voice on the other end of the line said. “She’s slipping away.”

When Marne walked in the room Mildred opened her eyes and smiled weakly. He told her he loved her and that they’d meet again in Heaven one day.

He held her hand for two more hours whispering the words, “I love you, Mildred.” Even though she couldn’t speak, he knew that she loved him, too.

Then he watched her take her last breath and told her goodbye.