“May the love which you both learned with your past spouses carry you forward into this new marriage.” My brother raised his glass as he gave the toast at Don’s and my wedding reception. Arnold and his wife Carol had been a significant part of my deepening love and commitment to Don after he and I both lost our first spouses. I bounced thoughts, concerns, questions off them and valued their wisdom as well as their desire to know Don.
As teens, Arn and I were both on a Bible quiz team that competed nationally. At one conference, some girls noticed how much we enjoyed each other. They didn’t believe we were brother and sister. Arn looked at me across the person seated between us.
“Want to show them?” I knew exactly what he meant. We leaned toward each other over the table and both … wiggled our eyes! The girls jumped backwards. “We believe, we believe!” Yup, eye tricks are a deep skillset he and I share.
Arn was two years ahead of me at a small Christ-centered college. Whenever I had a problem I’d ask him to take a walk with me. He taught me positive ways to deal with anger by writing it out, helped me find lost contact lenses in the dark…and listened to my questions about boyfriends, classes, faith challenges. Arn has been a Psychology professor for many years. His interactions with students were positive, challenging, and fun. I know. I’ve sat in on some of his classes.
When my first husband went in for a transplant, he asked Arn to promise that if something happened to him, Arnold would take care of me. Five months later, with Jerry’s life hanging in the balance, Arn told me and I spoke by phone.
“I’m ready to come as soon as you tell me you need me,” he said.
The next afternoon I told Carol it was unlikely Jerry would survive surgery the next day. Nine and a half hours later, Arn arrived in Gainesville, Florida. He came to the hospital from the airport, took Jerry’s hand and looked into his eyes. “I’m here to keep my promise,” he said with tears in his own eyes. And he stood behind me, rubbing my back as I leaned over Jerry, loving him as his life ebbed away.
A number of years ago Arnold became quite ill. When one doctor mentioned it could be cancer, my brother and Carol stayed awake all night, talking about what would happen if he should die. That sickness was diagnosed and Arnold has recovered. A year and a half ago Carol had a life-altering stroke. She is resilient and determined to regain her mobility; and the love they have for each other has only deepened with the challenges of a new kind of normal. Yes, there are times of frustration and impatience; but the two have worked together, often for hours a day, at recovery. And they continue to laugh and love each other, a love which is very visible to all around them.
Arnold is a father and grandfather with two children, a son- and daughter-in-law, and eight grandchildren. While Arn and Carol have had their ups and downs as a couple and as parents, they have deep friendships with their family members. They encourage open communication, have supported their kids through their life challenges, and have put their arms around five “bonus grandchildren”, literally and figuratively.
Arn, I am so grateful for the love and friendship we share. Happy Father’s Day!