O Christ our God, Who didst choose
the most pure Virgin from among all generations
and wast born of her in the flesh,
we Thy servants offer hymns of thanksgiving unto Thee.
As Thou art possessed of ineffable loving kindness,
O Master, from all manner of misfortunes free us who cry:
O Jesus, Son of God,
Who becamest incarnate for our sake,
glory be to Thee!
Akathist on the Nativity of Christ
Antiochian Orthodox Church
I was in the process of choosing a story for today’s post and thought that perhaps O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi would be appropriate as a love story to end the short series I’ve been posting. However something happened this week that touched me deeply. I wrote, rather awkwardly and quickly, about this on my Facebook page just after it happened but feel that perhaps it is worth retelling – particularly at this time of year and with the general mood that seems to be prevailing in the world. If for some of you it is a repeat I apologize, if not I hope that it is enjoyed.
I had to go to our local hospital ER earlier this week – turned out it was nothing serious but at this stage of life it’s best to check. I was seen to within minutes of arriving – some tests run and some blood taken for a bit of a look-see. They were very busy so after the triage and initial talk with the doctor it was determined that I didn’t need a bed so they asked if I would mind waiting in a side room with a few other people.
An older round-faced bespectacled gentleman with the air of a retired pastor was sitting in a wheelchair – he apologized for having his back to me and turned his chair around. It was apparent that he had lost the use of his legs and the wheelchair was a necessity. However it was his wife, not he, who was the patient. A pleasant looking matronly lady she was the sort who gave that impression would have been the chatty sort in ordinary circumstances. But these weren’t ordinary circumstances, as she tried to make conversation there were flashes of pain on her face. She was in a great deal of distress and was waiting for a painkiller injection. She was terrified of needles and her husband was gently stroking her hand, talking to her quietly and reassuringly, as the nurse went about her work. She rested her head in his lap and he very gently stroked her hair and spoke quietly, soothing her. Her face began to relax – perhaps from the drugs taking affect but more likely from the comfort he was giving her.
The doctor called them into another room and they chatted. When they came back in she was crying and he again was holding her hand and letting her get it out. She kept saying “but if I stay here who’s going to look after you.” He assured her that he could look after himself and what they had to do right now was look after her. From what I could tell their children were all Away and she made some allusion to them leaving the Island. Very firmly, but not unkindly, he reminded her that they had agreed a long time ago that they would never reproach their children for leading their own lives. Finally he said, again with a smile and so much love and kindness: look we’ve been together 40 years and I’ve finally got a chance to be a bachelor again. Are you going to rob me of the opportunity to sow some last wild oats? She started to laugh and bent over to hold him – he looked at me over her shoulder and gave me a wane little smile and for a brief second I could see that he was as worried about his being alone as she was.
The nurse came to get them, he took her bag on his lap and told her to hold on to the back of his chair, said goodbye to me and he pushed off with her, now groggy from the painkillers, leaning on the chair and him for support.
It has been a long time since I’ve seen such naked expressions of love.
On this day in 1966: Saturn’s moon Epimetheus is discovered by astronomer Richard Walker.