By Pastor Rob Norris
“For love is as strong as death.” – Song of Solomon 8:6
Only 10 months into their marriage, during an otherwise calm Sunday drive to church one July morning, a young Navy couple’s car was broadsided by a streaking ambulance racing through an intersection. The driver of the car, R. L. Alford, sustained some minor injuries. His wife, Hilda, was thrown from the vehicle, suffering a massive head injury that left her not only a quadriplegic, but also legally blind and unable to speak.
That was 50 years ago—50 years of communicating with his wife through little more than the nods of her head. Fifty years of pushing her wheelchair or (his preferred way) carrying her in his arms. Fifty years of emptying her urine pan and cleaning up her bowel movements. And in the last few years, even feeding her through a tracheal tube and learning how to insert her catheters.
Along the way, R. L.’s brand of marital loyalty has drawn some unexpected notice (“Undeserved,” to hear him say it). When a longtime family friend spearheaded a drive in the mid-80s to raise funds to build the Alfords a new home, help came from such high-ranking places as Florida governor Bob Martinez, who not only gave them a brand-new refrigerator but also spent a day working at the construction site. President Ronald Reagan sent a check for $500, followed by another for $1,000.
“When R. L. was asked to repeat the vow ‘for better or worse,’” a neighbor said, “he heard it real loud. Medically, it’s a miracle Hilda is still alive. But she’s not alive because of all those doctors. She’s alive because R. L. gave his life to her.”
In September 2006, the Alfords celebrated their golden anniversary. Looking back, R. L. humbly remarked, “Sure, it’s been rough in some ways. But it’s been rewarding.”
Fifty years of being there. May all our promises to each other be that long lasting.
Live It! Talk about what you would do for one another if the unthinkable happened. Promise you’ll be there, regardless.
Pray: While asking God for many more years together, pray it with a promise that you’ll remain faithful no matter what those years entail.
The Crossings meets Sundays, 10 a.m., at River Heights Intermediate, 7227 Scholar Way, in Eastvale. For more information, visit atthecrossings.com.