Finally, he calms down. She feeds him again. She dabs his chin with a napkin. She touches his forehead. She grins at him.

It’s early evening. We are waiting for a table. My wife and I are standing in a long line of people who all had the same brilliant idea—to take the interstate exit and visit Cracker Barrel.

Behind me is a Baptist youth group. Mostly boys. I saw their vans in the parking lot. There must be fifty of them, and they all smell like hormones.

Ahead of me: an elderly couple. She’s pretty, wearing a floral shirt. He is two feet higher than she is, with wide bony shoulders. He is wearing a ball cap and holding her arm.

His hands are trembling. His head bobs back and forth. He doesn’t seem to have any control over his movements.

The hostess calls them.

The woman says into the man’s hearing aid, “Table’s ready.”

He smiles. It’s a nice smile. I wish my smile was half as inviting as Old Blue Eyes.

I see them in the dining room. The man keeps his shaky hands in his lap, but it doesn’t stop him from moving. He looks uncomfortable in his own body.

She is playing the wood triangle game. I’ve never been very good at this novelty test. And apparently, neither has she.

No sooner has the waitress delivered their plates of food than the old woman takes a seat beside Old Blue Eyes. She tucks a napkin into his collar. She spoon-feeds him.

His shoulders start to toss violently. His head jerks to the side. He’s a making a mess.

She stops feeding and waits.

The shaking gets so bad that he starts rocking in different directions. It’s hard to watch.

But not for her. She talks to him like nothing is wrong. And even though he flails, even though the eyes of the restaurant are watching, she’s unaffected.

Finally, he calms down. She feeds him again. She dabs his chin with a napkin. She touches his forehead. She grins at him.

His face breaks out in smiles.

When he’s finished eating, she eats her own food—which must be cold by now. He makes conversation while she cleans her plate.

When they stand to leave, he holds her arm. They shuffle outside. I see them through the window. It’s an ordeal fitting Old Blue Eyes into the front seat. She buckles him in.

Their tail lights disappear.

I don’t know how long they’ve been married. I don’t know which county they’re from, I don’t even know their names.

I don’t know if they have kids, pets, mutual funds, or bizarre political views.

And I don’t care.

Because I know their type. People like them made promises long ago. To stay together during good days and bad. To cherish the hell and the easy living. To visit Cracker Barrels off interstates together.

To feed each other in public, if need be. In sickness and in health. Richer or poorer.

Until death do they part.

And it’s the most remarkable thing I’ve ever seen.

31 comments

  1. CKD - June 11, 2018 9:45 am

    What a truly heartwarming and uplifting story. Love conquers all!

    Reply
  2. NATHAN BENNETT - June 11, 2018 10:06 am

    DO THESE ARTICLES COME IN A COLLECTION OR BOOK FORMAT?

    Reply
  3. Wendy Griffin - June 11, 2018 10:18 am

    I so love your writing.

    Reply
  4. Judy McInnis - June 11, 2018 10:22 am

    Another good one! I wish that one in my like I could experience that kind of love.

    Reply
  5. Debbie Hayes - June 11, 2018 10:24 am

    Thank you for your posts!

    Reply
  6. Sandra Smith - June 11, 2018 10:56 am

    I saw SO MANY, amazing love stories like this, during my Nursing Career. Love & Commitment, from one spouse to another, mother & child, Child & parent, Sibling to sibling, best friend’s, church family member….hope for us all !
    Fed my family, fed my soul. ❤

    Reply
  7. janiesjottings - June 11, 2018 11:04 am

    Beautiful! Forty four years in, I can affirm, this kind of love is one of the most beautiful things you’ll see in this life. Love this story Sean! Once again you have touched us in the best way.

    Reply
  8. Ronnie - June 11, 2018 11:13 am

    True love!!! Thanks!

    Reply
  9. Barbara - June 11, 2018 11:14 am

    Sean, thank you for your writings every day. Sometimes they make me cry, sometimes they make me laugh, but they Always affect me and make me remember that we are all connected. My husband and I have been married 48 years, and I am grateful for every day. 💞

    Reply
  10. John - June 11, 2018 11:53 am

    Some days you bring a 64 year old man to tears. This is one of those mornings.

    Reply
  11. Christina Perry - June 11, 2018 12:29 pm

    I admit it – I am a lurker. I read religiously but never comment but this – this is the most amazing thing you have ever written…..I got married at 16 and am going on 18 years with my husband and Lord knows there are plenty of times it would have been easier to give up than to hang on and yet we have…. maybe it’s the way the South gets into your blood (I am a transplant down here) or maybe it is the way these old couples have seen unimaginable things and managed to stick together that make me stubborn enough to work things out but couples like this make my heart so happy.

    Reply
  12. Michael Guilday - June 11, 2018 12:44 pm

    My wife and I renewed our vowels a couple of years ago. We’ve been married for 38 years. The only guests to this ceremony were my two children. My daughter commented, “I’m happy that I’m attending the remarriage of my parents rather than the remarriage of my parents to new spouses.” When you’ve been married as long as we have and you take the vowels again, they are much more powerful. “Till death does you part” is no longer an infinite expression but a reality that is possibly just around the bend. When I said “I do” this time, I understood what I was agreeing to and I said it from my heart. I “do” and I am blessed that “I did”.

    Reply
  13. Linda - June 11, 2018 1:12 pm

    45 years next month…
    In sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, in good times and bad…..’till death do we part….
    My best friend forever…..

    Reply
  14. Lisa Perkins - June 11, 2018 1:35 pm

    ❤️😢❤️😢❤️😢 What a lovely story, a mixture of emotions. It’s nice to hear of people being good to each other, respecting vows and treating their spouse with respect and dignity. ❤️

    Reply
  15. Sue Cronkite - June 11, 2018 2:03 pm

    Wonderful!

    Reply
  16. Sylvia Sykes - June 11, 2018 3:01 pm

    Beautiful! Will have 55 years married to my best friend this August! I pray that I will be able to demonstrate such love to him when trials come!

    Reply
  17. Diane - June 11, 2018 3:01 pm

    Amen brother…that is the essence of marriage.
    And those two knew what they were smiling about!

    Reply
  18. Edna B. - June 11, 2018 3:51 pm

    A powerful, loving story. This is love. Thank you for sharing your gift of story telling with us. You have a super day, hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  19. Jack Quanstrum - June 11, 2018 4:03 pm

    So agree. I guess real love is all about. Love in action. Good read!

    Reply
  20. June Wilson - June 11, 2018 4:57 pm

    True love forever.

    Reply
  21. Julie - June 11, 2018 5:22 pm

    This is essentially the story of my husband and his late wife. She developed dementia at an early age. He managed to care for her — while working full time — without putting her in a nursing home. Before we married, I found a calendar in his house. There was a notation every Sunday — something like blue and green dress with blue belt. It brought me to tears. Every Sunday he dressed her, did her hair, and took her to church. To honor her, he wanted to make sure she didn’t wear the same dress two Sundays in a row. That’s love. I knew he would be a good husband.

    Reply
  22. Dave - June 11, 2018 6:00 pm

    My wife of 49 1/2 yrs has Parkinson’s, dementia and essential tremor, the woman you describe is an angel trust me I know and being an angel is very hard work even when the love doesn’t fail sometimes my patience does.

    Reply
    • Michael Guilday - June 12, 2018 1:48 am

      God Bless You

      Reply
  23. Heidi - June 11, 2018 9:44 pm

    There’s a very special place in heaven for people like that. She’s not just a blessing to that dear man but to everyone witnessing her every day.

    Reply
  24. C.E. HARBIN - June 11, 2018 11:17 pm

    I am so glad you see the good in life. God bless you.

    Reply
  25. Bonnie Specchio - June 11, 2018 11:37 pm

    This is my parents – madly in love for 73 years, married for 69. Alzheimer’s is taking her away from him.

    Reply
  26. Maxine - June 12, 2018 12:36 am

    Amen to love, witnessed at its best.

    Reply
  27. Jack Darnell - June 12, 2018 2:22 am

    Sweet, it was 1956, in front of a JP, we promised that until death do us part, “She would feed me in public, but I Suwanee, I hope she never has to do it!

    Reply
  28. John - June 12, 2018 4:23 am

    That’s writing with a purpose, Sean. Well done.

    Reply
  29. Tawanah Fagan Bagwell - June 16, 2018 5:04 am

    Well said. My husband passed away 3 months ago. I watched him become weaker as cancer overtook his body. I would give anything to have grown old with him too. You touch me with your writing.

    Reply

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