Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Exemplifying True Love...Even during our Toughest Times

Today Ed and Helen would have celebrated 42 years of marriage.  All day and even the days leading up to today I've been thinking about how Helen must be feeling and how I would feel when this day approached each year.  I have felt lead to share something that I wrote on the plane on our way back to AL the day after Eddie died.  I originally wrote it as an update/potential blog post but I've never shared it with anyone and even I haven't read it since I first sat in that plane seat thinking about Eddie.  I share it now only to try and honor my loving father in law and to recognize my amazing mother in law.  I can only pray that my words might exemplify the love I have for them both and the impression they have and continue to leave on me.

July 23, 2012
About a month ago Greg, the kids and I were able to go to AL for 3 weeks.  We asked many of you to pray for us, and for our visit home.  About this time, Eddie began to decline and we began fervently praying that God would sustain him for our visit so that we could have one last good visit with him.  I asked many of you to join us in praying for this as well.  I wanted to tell you that God heard our prayers and was faithful to answer.  With some minor changes to our original travel plans, we were able to visit with Eddie early.  Even in his weakened state he still knew all of us by name and face, even the kids!  Even though his mind wasn't always clear and he was disoriented at times, God still blessed us with some great time with him, creating lasting memories.  He even made us laugh several times in only a way Eddie could.
The toll the disease was taking on his body became more evident.  Each day we saw him decline a little more but, yet through it all he continued to fight, never complaining, and went about his day with his "sweet Eddie charm".  Several times he would even ask if he could help us or if we were OK.  I loved watching his face light up when one of the grand kids would come to his side or crawl in bed with him.  
I know he was prepared to go but I know and he even stated that leaving the grand kids this early was one of the hardest parts for him.  As our time in AL was coming to an end, Greg and I had a really really hard time leaving.  We debated about staying another week or two, but in the end we truly had a peace about going home and living out our lives as Eddie would have wanted.  The day we were leaving Eddie called Greg and I in to him one by one.  During this time it was like he knew we were leaving and that it was his last chance to say good bye.  During those moment as sad and emotional as they were, I was able to tell him what I wanted him to know, how I felt about him and how thankful I was for him.  Thomas and Lily each had a special time with him too.  I'll never forget it!
When Greg and I were finally able to make ourselves leave, since Eddie was sleeping soundly, Greg whispered to him that I was going to pray for him.  Without saying a word, he simply reached out for my hand.  Such a precious moment and gift God gave us that day.
As I look back at our time there with him, I think one of the most amazing sights was watching Helen care for him.  She made sure his every need was met even before her own.  She would drop whatever she was doing if he said he was hungry for something and she would go cook it.  I watched her lay in bed with him, loving him, repeatedly telling him how much he was loved by so many and how proud she was of him, how he had worked so hard to always take care of them.  I saw her pray over him asking God's mercy on him.  And through it all she did it with a supernatural strength and grace that I can only dream to achieve.  I learned more about what it means when two people truly love each other. What it truly means when they say "I do", "in sickness and in health, for better or worse, till death do us part." Praising God for allowing me the chance to witness His work, and to watch an earthly example of serving the way Christ commands us to do.   
For those of you who knew Eddie or had ever spent any time with him know that it was an honor to be in his presence.  He wasn't often a loud talker or boaster but if you spent any time talking to him you realized his depth of wisdom and might walk away with a new tidbit of knowledge about something he had most likely recently read about.  I loved how he knew so many random but interesting facts and stories.  And if he didn't know the answer for sure he left you thinking he did or at least made you think twice about questioning him.  He had such an easy spirit with an attitude that if you want something you need to work for it.  I love that he grew up on a farm basically poor by today's standards.  But through his amazing parents love, dedication, and hard work he graduated from Auburn and worked his way up the corporate ladder to the success that he had never losing sight of who he was and where he came from.  I grew to love and appreciate his love for Auburn.  He wasn't just a football fan, he truly loved Auburn.  He was truly and Auburn man living out the Auburn Creed.  He realized and appreciated what Auburn had given him and he always found time to give back with his time and money.
I am beyond thankful for having the privilege of knowing Eddie and being a part of his family for over 17 18 years.  I am so thankful and blessed beyond words because of it.  But I am most thankful for the way he exemplified to Greg what it means to be a good dad and husband.  I am forever grateful...
I can only hope and pray that God might bless Greg and I with a marriage and lifetime together like Eddie and Helen had.  And if one day my kids can say only half the things that I feel about Ed and Helen, I will consider myself lucky and feel I did my job.  May God continue to comfort us all as we continue to miss Eddie and may we always choose to live life to the fullest in a way that Eddie did on a daily basis!