November 8, 2020

The title of this post has been used many times in the past 20 to 30 years by songwriters, poets, etc.  I learned what I think is equivalent to this title when I was very young, “you can’t judge a book by its cover.”  Meaning, of course, you can’t tell what’s inside by the way the outside looks.  If you remember William Shakespeare, it was he who first made the title of this post, writing in Romeo and Juliet.  His words were somewhat different than this title ,but mean the same thing.

I’m going to use several people I was fortunate enough to know to explain this post. Bear with me and keep reading as I’m sure you will enjoy what you read. And I’m certain many of you have seen the same things I will be writing about.

About four months ago I was waiting in my car while Sandra was shopping in a store. While I was waiting for her to return to the car, an elderly couple parked in the same parking area where I had parked. The old man driving the truck they were in pulled his truck right in front of me, his front looking right at the front of my car.

I don’t know why I did this, but I stopped reading the newspaper I was reading to watch this couple (I’m assuming they were married to each other). It took the old man a few minutes to get out of his truck. He must have had arthritis or something in his knees and maybe feet too. He started walking to the other side of his truck to help his wife get out of the truck. He was using a walking cane in his left hand. When he started helping his wife out of the truck he placed a little step stool in front of her door that he got out of the bed of his truck. Eventually, he got his wife out of the truck and they started toward the same door Sandra had entered to do her shopping. The old man carefully held his wife’s arm with his right hand as they started to the door. The dear lady’s torso was bent over to what looked to me about a 45-degree angle. They looked as though they were in their nineties in age. I began wondering about them. How long had they been married, how many children and grandchildren did they have, did they have great-grandchildren.  It took them about 10 minutes to get in the store where Sandra was shopping and she had gotten to the door in just a minute. Eventually, they returned to their truck with a few small bags of things they had bought.  It took a long time for them to get in their truck and leave. I’ll probably never see them again, but that 30-minute ordeal I saw them going through to get inside the store and back has become branded inside my brain. God bless them.

I will be writing about several couples who were members of the churches I pastored.  All had been married for over 70 years. That means all were in their nineties or close to ninety.

Unfortunately, while I was their pastor, at least one member of these couples died.  In one case, a man’s wife died and within a month he died too. He had told me earlier that he was anxious to go to heaven so he could see his wife.

I’ll never forget this story I’m going to tell you. A man’s wife died and I was called to visit the family to discuss funeral arrangements and get information on what kind of sermon they would like.  The couple had had four sons and they were all at their father’s home. Once the funeral arraignment was made we began reminiscing about the deceased. Her husband told me that in their entire marriage that they had never argued.  The sons all began laughing and the oldest son said to his father, “Daddy, don’t tell that lie to our pastor. You and Mom used to fight like cats and dogs, even yelling at each other – many times.”  That’s when Clarence said, “well they never amounted to anything. I guess that’s why I forgot about them.”  That was a gem to me. Does that remind you of anything, maybe even you and your spouse?

The next story is also about a couple who had been married for over seventy years. The wife had had to go to the hospital for about three days with a none life-threatening problem.  The couple had worked together their entire marriage raising cattle. She told me earlier how she used to drive a tractor helping to bail hay, bush-hog, etc. That was the days before cabs on tractors, air conditioning, and other luxuries. She had spent many years exposed to the sun. You know how that ages a person beyond their actual age. This dear lady had many wrinkles on her face and she did look quite old.  While I was visiting them in their room, an announcement came over the intercom saying visiting hours will be over in five minutes. Please leave the room by nine o’clock.  So her husband got out of his chair, walked over to the bed, and bent over to give his wife a good-night kiss. When he got through kissing his wife he said to her, “Good night my beautiful sweetheart.”  I walked with him to his car, but never forgot what I saw in that hospital room.  Do you say to your wife, “Good night my beautiful sweetheart.”  when you go to bed at night? Or ladies, do you say something flattering to your husband?

I used to have a friend, now deceased, who would say when he saw someone he thought was unattractive, “They say beauty is only skin deep, someone needs to skin that person.”  That was a cruel thing to say, even as a joke. Most people know that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.  Amen for that.

That brings me to the end of this post and my main point. To me anyway.

Today, Nov. 8, 2020, is mine and Sandra’s 55th wedding anniversary. Neither of us looks as young as we did as newlyweds. But displayed prominently in my office is a photograph Sandra gave to me when she was 15 and a half years old. We had just started dating when she gave me the photo.  Every day as I see that photo, many times, a day, I remember Sandra looking so young.  She will always look that way to me, even as we grow old together.

What about you? Do you see the beauty in people after the natural beauty of their youth has faded away? Sandra will always be my “beautiful sweetheart.”

God bless you,
Spencer Plumley

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