Everyone should have a treasure box. A special place to keep cut outs, letters, poems, funny sayings, a clip of hair and a lifetime of memories. I have a box like that and recently I uncovered an old letter. It wasn’t dated, but I guess it to be about 55 years old. It is a love letter, written by my wife Ann a long time ago.
From the beginning of our marriage, I was not a very good husband. My Dad was a good man but he never gave us boys any instructions on how to be good husbands. I thought that when you got married, you just went on being just like you were before you were married. I was deeply in love with the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. I just didn’t know how to be a good husband. Learning hasn’t been easy but it has become better through the years. I’m still a work in progress. Ah yes, the letter.
I love you more dearly every day. For being an inspiration to me and to all whom meet and know you. For giving so freely of your love to me and to our children.
For having faith in me. For seeing only the good in me and for allowing your love for me to cover (ohh) so many faults.
I love you for complimenting my hair and dress when I am not pleased with how I look. You make me always look and feel like a queen. I love you for making one night a week very special just for us . . . for opening the car door for me, for helping me with my coat . . . for sending me in to read while you prepare an after church snack on Sunday night. For making each day that you are with me a treasured memory, one that I keep with me all through the week that follows until we are together once more.
I love you for sending me a card saying, “I love you” just when I needed it the most. I love you for taking time to listen when I know you are busy, for sitting with me over a second cup of coffee, and for not reading the newspaper at breakfast (even though you’d like to).
I love you dear heart for being you, and I thank our dear Lord daily that He made you especially for me” Always, Ann”
It’s a good day today to read this letter again. I have kept it through the years for a number of reasons. First, it isn’t dated, and to me it is as fresh as if it were written just yesterday. Next, she doesn’t mention any of my faults. She could have for she had discovered a good number after the first few years of marriage. And last but not least, the letter is literally filled with “LOVE“. It reminds me of what Paul wrote, “And now abideth, faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love” (I Corinthians 13:13).
Three people taught me the real meaning of love. Mother, who was stone deaf for 65 of her 80 years. My mother never heard any of her seven children speak, or laugh or cry. A brave and courageous woman who marched through life, leaving in her wake the real meaning of love.
Wherever we went as a local minister, old women fell in love with me. One who just lived to see my face, hear my voice, and receive my visit was Lilly Orr. She sat in the back of the auditorium, and was the first to greet me after the sermon. She would bear hug me and being rather short, she would fit right under my chin. The hug would continue, not for seconds, not for minutes, but for a long time. I would be shaking hands with first one and then another and she would sort of rotate with my movements, holding tight.
One Sunday, after the crowd had passed by, Lilly got me by the cheeks with her hands and just wanted me to kiss her just one time. I was rude and pushed her away. As I turned to leave, I saw tears in her eyes, the sadness, and the horror she felt of simple rejection. Lilly died that afternoon. They said her old heart just broke and quit beating. I was asked to speak the eulogy. When the service was over I asked for a moment with Lilly, alone. I was crying when I made a simple vow. “Lilly, I vow to you and before God that I will never hesitate much less refuse to kiss anyone who needs the joy and assurance that a simple kiss can bring. I vow it, so help me God.” Lilly taught me about loving.
Last and most important. Ann taught me what real love was all about. She has done it moment by moment, hour by hour and day by day. For nearly 60 years I have been blessed with a love that is greater than faith or hope. Her name is Ann!