Love Stories Worth Remembering
Grace lies on a hospital bed, diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, unable to move but fully alert and able to think. She’s trapped in her own body, and she’s been like this for about ten years. She’s seventy years old and her son has gone and left her; he never visits. Her only solace comes from the daily calls her husband makes. She longs for those precious minutes when she gets to hear his voice telling her, “I love you.”
Grace’s story is not that much different from many elderly couples across the nation. Couples who have struggled through hardships together for thirty or so years cannot prevent the one challenge that, in many cases, will break them apart – deteriorating health.
Today, on Valentine’s Day, we think more about love and relationships than on any other day of the year. From our youth we can all remember the great Disney love stories. In these classical Disney renditions of old fairy tales, young girls marry the love of their dreams and live happily ever after. Yet before they can reach this ‘happily ever after,’ their relationship is challenged by some scenario that will test their love.
In Snow White, Snow is poisoned by an evil queen and put into a deep sleep. Cinderella has to run away from her Prince before he can even find out her name, and Ariel is not able to even speak to her love.
In the end though we see that love will persevere through all odds. The elderly couples of our nation face a story similar to that of all the Disney princesses, yet the challenges that keep them from being together are far more realistic. The dedication and love of Grace’s husband to call her everyday to tell her he loves her – that is a true love story.
When we see the tragedy of love torn apart, we only wish there was something that we could do. Unfortunately, once crisis strikes, it is too late to make a real difference. Planning early for long-term care can help prevent couples from being separated. Imagine if only Cinderella had a better plan that night of the ball. She might have been able to use the short time she had more efficiently so she would never have had to leave thinking she would never see her prince charming again.
Unlike Cinderella, we do not know how much time we have before something unexpected happens in the health our loved ones, something we are not prepared for. The worst may come and the choice for one spouse to leave the other may have to be made, but by talking about options well beforehand, by making plans for circumstances that may or may not happen, we will have allowed our parents to have a far greater chance of staying together.
According to the U.S. census the amount of seniors aged sixty-five years and older who are divorced has risen forty-eight percent 1990 to 2004. There are many elderly couples who feel that deteriorating health has caused them to have to make the decision between “till death do us part,” and divorce, yet against the rising statistics, couples like Grace and her husband choose to care for each other until the end.
These are love stories worth remembering, stories of struggle, perseverance, and hope that a separated couple may one day still have their happily ever after.
Posted on February 14, 2012, in Elderly Emotions and tagged divorce, elderly couple, elderly love, elderly parents, fairytales, family caregivers, love stories, separation, true love story, valentine's day. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.