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Lessons in love: Grace, strength, humor

By David Schriemer, M.D.

The secrets of love are better caught than taught. I’ve learned a lot about enduring relationships from patients who have demonstrated love over many many years.

Glenn and Luella Shearer grew up on neighboring farms and got married as teenagers. I had the privilege of being their physician in the 1990s when they were elderly. Glenn was an inpatient at Bronson Vicksburg Hospital. Luella came to see me at our office on Richardson St. As she was leaving, she asked me, “Do you know what today is?”

I replied, “No”.

She stated, “It’s our anniversary!”

“Which one?” I asked.

“Sixty-eight,” she replied.

After congratulating her, for some reason I asked, “Did he remember?”

She hesitated, looked up to the ceiling, thoughtfully stroked her chin and said, ”When I went over there and told him, he did.”

Looks like you need to give a little grace to make things last.

Robert and Ruth Appell, parents of Lloyd Appell MD, lived around the corner from our house. They were both in their nineties. Robert was profoundly hard of hearing. Ruth was almost completely bed-bound with crippling rheumatoid arthritis. She stayed in a hospital bed in their front room, watching a beautiful maple tree change with the seasons out the front picture window. Robert could barely hear Ruth, but when she was ill, he somehow could hear her every request.

When Robert was ill, she summoned the strength to get out of bed and walk to the bedroom to check on him.

Love can help you do things you did not know you could do.

I was visiting with an older patient and his daughter recently. He was doing well but had profound hearing loss. He and his wife recently celebrated 72 years together. I asked what the secret was. He shrugged his shoulders. His daughter piped up, “Maybe it’s the hearing loss!” We all laughed.

You have to have a sense of humor too.

This Valentine’s Day, be grateful for those who have shown us love and given us love.

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