About 25 minutes into my bike ride, he came to help her back into her wheelchair. At this point, I am drenched in sweat and thankful for it, for it hid the tears that started to fall as I watched the sweet scene unfold.
The man was stooped over from age, looking quite frail himself. He reached around his wife and took away a strap that had been around her seat like a seatbelt. Then he swiveled her seat around and pulled the wheelchair as close as he could get it. Then he bent his frail little body down as close to her level as he could, and she reached her arms up around his neck. This is obviously an assisted lift that they have practiced for quite some time, as it went as smoothly as a choreographed dance. He rocked a couple times to gain momentum and then pulled her up on her feet, turning her back to her wheelchair as he lifted. He held her very closely, like they were slow dancing as he very, very slowly shuffle-stepped backwards. Once she was backed up completely against the chair, he lowered her down. Then her put her "seat belt" on and pulled her back a bit. Then he takes his little towel and wipes down the machine for her. Taking such care. So thorough.
By this point, I had tears mixed in with the sweat on my cheeks. I love watching the love people have for each other. Especially people who obviously have a lifetime of love shared between them.
A few minutes later, I watched out the window as he wheeled her up to their car. The same process began as he helped her into the car. The slow dance. And this time, before he lowered her down, he slid his hand up behind her head to make sure it got into the car without a bonk. Just such pure tenderness from a man who loved his lady.
His bent body then shuffled to the back of the car to load up the wheelchair and they were off. This process took 10 minutes. Ten minutes of such tenderness, such patience.
I would have loved to have been able to talk to them. I'd love to hear their story. How did they meet? How long have they been married? What have been their greatest trials? What have been their greatest joys?
As I finished my workout, I thought about my new little niece who just started her life with us yesterday. Such a full circle to see such opposite ends of life.
Then I came home, feeling reflective of what I'd seen. I had a message from my aunt...and called her back to find that my Gramma has had a stroke. Her life has been slowly winding down for quite some time, but it appears that it is now much closer to the end. Her frail body is tired. She's in a hospital bed at home, sleeping most of the time, and not eating at all. New life in our family yesterday, one leaving very soon. Such contrast.
And so it goes...the life cycle so clearly displayed before me today. My heart hurts for the goodbye. The goodbye to what was and the special relationship we had. She is not now who she was, and that part is not hard to say goodbye to. But still a lot of emotions and love swell up...
I'm praying it comes quickly. I know that the Lord is never early and never late and that He knows the moment my Gramma will take her final breath. I just hope that moment is soon.
Beginnings and endings. And a time for every season.