Twenty-eight years ago a gangly, tall young fellow named Mike married a bubbly, petite girl named Nadine. She was known as “Deanie” and she stole his heart from the beginning. But this love story has a twist.
After their engagement and before the wedding, Deanie was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. If they were to have a life together, it would not be an easy one. Deanie told Mike that, in light of her diagnosis, she wouldn’t bind him to the engagement. Mike told her that if his love for her was that shallow, he wouldn’t have asked her to marry him in the first place. Mike was in love for the long run; he couldn’t resist Deanie’s smile.
Last week Mike stood in front of the church next to Deanie’s casket. She was dressed beautifully, holding a brass cross. Mike looked down at her lovingly as he told me their story. He told me how it took him lots of years to mature, as Deanie patiently waited for him to grow up. According to Mike, Deanie made him a better man. “She didn’t even swear”, said Mike.
As their 28 years of marriage went by, Mike continually changed and remodeled their house to suit Deanie’s needs. She spent her last 15 years in a chair. Mike lowered counters and opened access so Deanie could get around better. It wasn’t easy for either of them.
When I first learned of Deanie’s passing, I thought about how understanding and committed Mike must be to have been her caregiver for so many years. After all, Mike was faced with the certainty that as time passed, Deanie’s health would get worse and worse; there wasn’t going to be any miraculous recovery at the end of this road. Because of this, I pitied Mike for the length and severity of the inconvenience that was his.
As Mike stood at his wife’s side and told me his stories, there wasn’t a hint of sorrow or pity in his voice. It was all about Deanie; how wonderful she was, and how he enjoyed every minute with her…even the last thirty days as she faded away. Mike doesn’t regret a thing. He told me that if he could turn back the clock, he would marry Deanie all over again. After talking to Mike for a while, the reality of his situation suddenly hit me; Mike was the lucky one! He married a woman who made him a better man by loving him and encouraging him. He misses her dearly and his heart is heavy with her loss.
I regret that I never met Deanie. I’m sure I would have been inspired. She was an incredible woman. Marriage is probably the most important decision that a person makes in his or her life. Like all men who are lucky enough to marry a really good woman, Mike got the prize!