The couple lived in a double room in a seniors’ home in a small prairie town. They had recently celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary.
Now, the wife was dying and as the parish priest, I had been called. Across the divide between their twin beds, the husband tenderly held his wife’s hand. With family members gathered around, we talked and prayed. We also laughed and cried.
Then suddenly, she was gone. There was silence, then the husband cried out, “Wait for me! I am coming with you!” He held his wife’s lifeless body tightly.
After the funeral, the entire family accompanied the body to the little cemetery out in the country. It was a simple grave in gravelly soil.
Two days later I left for a holiday. When I returned, I had a telephone message that said, “Dad died last night.”
With the family, I returned to the same prairie cemetery. Just four weeks later, the husband was joining his wife for eternity.
This couple, both well into their 90s, provided a wonderful example of what a Christian marriage can be. They modelled a loving relationship that was deep, committed, enduring, passionate…and stronger than death itself.
St. Paul writes: “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
This couple lived and died by this truth. And we all knew we had much work to do to live up to our calling.
The Rev. Patrick Tomalin and his wife, the Ven. Dianne Tomalin, served Trinity Anglican/Lutheran Church in Port Alberni, B.C., where they now live in retirement.