Two solitary souls met each other, and made each other’s life better.
It happened over 15 years ago. And not everyone was happy it happened. My mother, who was a widow for about a decade, finally retired, moved from Delaware, and took up residence in The Chesapeake (an excellent retirement village in Newport News). Her eyes soon met a widower by the name of Blandy Haynes. And his eyes met hers. It may have been the other way around, but I wasn’t there.
Now he was a bit different than my father, her husband for over 40 years. But that didn’t stop the attraction between the two. And many of the single ladies did not appreciate this newcomer coming into their world and taking the best available bachelor off the market. It would have made the TV franchise history … the septuagenerian singles. My mother said she got mean looks, ignored by others, and basically, a very chilly reception by the residences who has their own eyes on this fine man.
And then me. She visited Lisa and me in Louisiana. And she broke the rules. She called him. She made a phone call to Blandy. Sounds innocent, but my parents had a rule when we were growing up – there would be no phone calls from girls. We could call them, but they couldn’t call us. So now, in my home, I tried to enforce that rule. I told her to hang up the phone and wait for him to call her. She told me to mind my own business, went to her room, and slammed the door … and continued the conversation with Blandy in an unauthorized phone call. Ah, the tables had turned.
A few years later, my brother Jon and I officiated their wedding. Andy, our eldest brother, walked her down the aisle at Liberty Baptist in Hampton, VA. I still chuckle when I tell people I married my mother.
Blandy, retired army officer, stalwart servant of the Lord, faithful follower, dedicated dad, and active member-deacon-lay leader at Liberty Baptist for decades … came into our family’s life, and we into his. He and mother travelled, shared a life, filled a void left at the loss of spouses, and made life better for each other.
The Lord was in the middle of the relationship. Their love for each other was special, real, and rewarding. Their respect for each other’s respective family was always part of their relationship. And their union was a God-send at a time in each other’s life where they needed each other.
A few years ago, as in so many of our elders, their memory began to be hit. Their health would never be what it was decades prior. Though I am not sure the extent, the actual diagnosis, nor the full impact it had … I can say I never saw Blandy anything but polite, happy, and full of gratitude for life, friends, and family. He would eventually be moved to the memory ward – and my mother’s days would be spent down there with him. The two, still deep in love.
This week, the Lord took Blandy home. His struggling is over. His health is restored. And he is there with so many of the saints … including his first wife and my father. They are shouting praises in a great heavenly worship experience I am longing to experience myself (just not too soon).
We pray for Blandy’s kids. We lift up my mother, who herself is struggling with memory loss and is taking this loss hard. But we also rejoice knowing God has it all under control.
It seems too often we say goodbye after someone has already been called home. May we never miss the chance to tell our love ones they are loved, never pass up opportunities to build memories, and never take someone’s presence for granted.
So Lord, thank you for bringing Blandy and my mother together. Thank you for their love. And thank you for having him being part of my life. My mother is not the only person in this scenario that is better because they met Blandy – I am too. We will miss him, but only for a bit.