Stay With Me

Stay With Me

He showed up on my list of patients to see as a “self-referral” but at that age (91), someone else is usually doing the asking.

When I stood at the doorway and knocked, a woman in a bathrobe motioned me in. Clearly not the patient.

I introduced myself as the Chaplain and she greeted me warmly as if she was expecting me. I decided to start with her. “How are you doing today?” I inquired as part of my oft standard greeting. “Tired.” But there was a light of some sort that was not diminished in her face.

Noting the bathrobe, I inquired, “Did you sleep over night?” “Why yes!” she almost exclaimed as if it were usual protocol at this hospital (it’s not.) “We’ve been married 64 years, do you think I’m going to leave him now?” We didn’t cover this scenario in my training.

I quickly took back the role of asking the questions and decided to follow her trail. “64 years is a long time. Do you have a secret?”

Why yes,” as if there was any doubt. “Keep looking at the BIG picture, don’t worry about the little stuff…remember why you came together and keep looking at that.” I mentioned that I also enjoyed a long marriage but only 42 years. She congratulated me, repeated the advice and then spontaneously opened her arms and hugged me like we had both arrived at a safe place after a long journey.

I noticed her husband then, semi-sleeping in a chair and seemingly unaware of our girlfriend-like connection by the door. She didn’t leave him now or ever in spite of all that “little stuff” that sometimes we can make so big. That probably was part of why he made it this far, she stayed. Not just in the marriage, but also in the day-to-day.  I imagined all the other times in these 64 years that she made that same decision.

Once again, I was the one that received the spiritual care that day. BIG picture. Let’s remember that. I can still see the light in her face.

Hope for the best,



4 Responses to “Stay With Me”

  1. 1 Debbie McKenzie June 15, 2015 at 4:41 PM

    Love, love this, Tish! Thank you so much for your enouraging words! Debbie >

  2. 3 Michelle T. June 16, 2015 at 6:40 AM

    Only 28 for us — but yes, learning the art of staying.

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