I was at Lauds and a Solemn Requiem Mass today, so I haven't much Single stuff to write about.
The elderly man for whom we prayed was sort of Single: after a very long separation, his wife had given him permission to take vows of celibacy, and he was a male religious. It's very complicated, but I assure you it was a happy and holy situation, and not only many members of his order but his whole family was at the Mass.
The man for whom we prayed lived alone, and I heard from one of his friends that, because his health was very poor, he would call his wife every morning to tell her he was still alive. And it struck me how unusual was this situation because it was so respectful and loving in a way we simply don't expect of separated spouses these days. It was decent.
There are (or were) still people in the world who, once they come to the conclusion that they can no longer live together, still care for each other regardless and still honour their marriage tie. It amazes and edifies me. It amazes me that there was a woman generous enough to allow her husband to become a male religious without demanding a divorce. It edifies me that she would be the person he called in the morning to say "I'm still alive."
I am overwhelmed, really,
I don't want to write any more about that, for these are not people I know very well, but for whom I have the greatest respect, and theirs is a private generation. Instead I'll write an account of an elderly lady I knew better, one who sat by her husband as he lay in a coma dying slowly of prostate cancer. He wasn't wearing his false teeth, obviously, so his poor gums were exposed to the air, drying out every time he breathed in. So this lady sat by him, putting gel on his gums so that he wouldn't suffer that discomfort.
These to me are two sterling examples of married love. Oh yes, young married couples are all very lovely and dewy and hopeful and happy. But it's old married love that inspires me. It's old spouses caring for each other, and being generous to each other, that brings tears to my eyes.
Have I mentioned recently that although one day my female Searching Single readers will be too old have babies, they'll never be too old to marry? And have I mentioned recently that romantic love, which so many of you long for, always leads to either heartbreak or widowhood?
One of these reminders is full of hope; the other is grave. Both are true.