Real Love

Years ago, when I was leaving a late-evening college leadership class, one of my professors (who, in her words, was “no longer a spring chicken”) asked me if I would walk her to her car as she wasn’t able to get around easily without assistance. I offered her my arm, and she leaned into me as we made slow progress through the building to the parking lot. As we went along, she spoke to me in that melodious and lilting Old South accent…

Dustin, allow me tell you a story that I know you, of all people, will appreciate. My husband and I have lived in the same little house for years, and every morning he gets up and fixes me a cup of instant coffee. I never drink more than a cup, and my husband doesn’t drink coffee at all, so that’s why we buy the instant kind. He always has the cup waiting on the table for me. It has been that way for as long as I can remember. The past few weeks though, I have been finding the coffee in the cupboard near the sink, not across the kitchen on the shelf where it has been for years. So, when I would open the door and find it near the sink, I would put it back where it belonged.

After a few days of this my husband Frank sat across from me, took me by my hands and said to me, “Jennie dear, could we keep the coffee near the sink? It’s just easier that way. The water and the stove are on one side of the kitchen and the coffee is on the other. So when I make your morning cup, it is just easier with me having to use my cane and all for everything to be on the same side.”

“But we’ve always kept it in the other cabinet,” I said.

“I know, but it’s easier the other way.”

Now here is a man who is not getting around as well as he once did, talking to a woman for whom he makes a single cup of coffee every morning, a woman who never even touches the jar of instant coffee for anything other than to move it. And he is standing in a kitchen that is hardly big enough for two to turn around inside of it, and I know if I insisted on keeping the coffee where it has been, and spread broken glass on the floor, he would willingly walk over it to make my one morning cup.

I sat looking at this man and realized that in forty years of marriage, this is the only time I ever remember him pleading with me for anything…and the one thing he has asked me for is the one thing that could make it easier to show how deeply he cares for me.

Now that, my dear…is love.

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