This morning I read of Mary Coffee, diagnosed with congestive heart failure and given six-months to live by her doctors. She is a 94-year old Dallas, TX woman who upon hearing her longevity on this earth made a final wish to have one last dance to the Tennessee Waltz. Her husband of more than 50 years (who has already passed) proposed to her during a dance and they made the ballroom and active part of their lives, dancing at least once a week, for the duration of their marriage. As I watched her slip from her wheelchair under the sturdy grasp of suitors for the event, I felt my eyes well with tears at not only her dedication to her husband, their marriage, and his memory, but her commitment to make the most of the time she has left. The dance was tiny, barely moving with her partner who supported her ability to stand at all, but it was charming and endearing in a way that many outwardly displays of affection are not.
What a commitment to their love, to their ideas of marriage, of making memories, and of paying tribute to those memories in her final wishes before she passes on to Heaven. When she was asked if she was nervous about her implied fate she replied, "No, I have a dance partner in [Heaven] waiting for me, I have relatives there." You have to love the certainty of those with faith that have run a marathon on our humble planet. Are we all so sure?
Do we all feel this way when faced with troubles in our lives? Not simply her faith, that I personally admire, but her continued admiration for love. I'm sure their marriage struggled at times. I don't know that I've met a happily married couple that hasn't seen their fair share of hard times. When pondering this, I'm reminded of a comment I once heard when a couple was asked how they'd stayed married for so long? The reply was simple, "we were never out of love at the same time." How true; blunt, but true.
This made me think of several things - first and foremost, the name under which I write this blog: Bradshaw Whitaker. This is not my name, this is a pen name, an alias, a pseudonym. I chose this name because it pays tribute to two women that helped shape my life: Mary Jane (Bradshaw) Boring, and Bobbie Jo (Whitaker) Crosby; my grandmothers. Both strong women, both married for the "long-haul", both strong in tradition and abundant in love. Both married to bull-headed men that gave them plenty of grief over the years; Grandpa Boring who knew everything, even if he didn't and Papa Crosby, you'd never find a more ornery man on the planet! But, alas, both loveable despite their flaws of which we all possess. I believe that using this pen names pays tribute to these women, much like Mary Coffee payed tribute to a man that mattered to her for many years. I am in awe at her continued devotion to her mate during a time where the average divorce rate is approximately 6% of all marriages ending this way. Even in his death, her love survived, as in the death of my grandmothers, and sadly Grandpa Boring, too, their love continued on despite the hardships faced during their marital life.
I think this is part of why I strive every day to remain devoted to my husband of 10 years. In this short decade, we've already seen the hardships of marriage and have uttered words of separation and "breaks" when we just couldn't seem to make things work, despite our best efforts. But, in the end, one of us always pulled through and reminded the other of why we got married; love. I love him and he loves me. Through the early years, moves, deployments (I am an Army wife - but that's another post), child-birth, and now child-rearing, through deaths, anniversaries, friends, enemies, family, marriage, births, and divorces, we have endured because of love. The devotion to each other that surpasses all other expectations in a world where standards are often set so low that few people rise to any occasion, much less to the concept of "happily ever after". I hope that in 60 years, when I am 94-years old I will still hold in my heart the blind faith I have in the man I married.
Mary Coffee, today, through a simple news report reminded me how grand the idea of love and marriage is. How important it is to pay tribute to those we hold in the highest regard, and most importantly to remember, that when we are literally standing by faith alone, that we'll all remember to dance. May God bless you, your loved ones, your heroes, your marriage, and your final wishes as you take a daily walk upon the terra firma of this land.