I am going to share something with you and you have to PROMISE not to tell my wife, I eat at McDonald’s once or twice a month because I love their french fries. I know, I know, I am always writing about how I cycle and hike. That for an old fat guy that I am in pretty good shape but I just can’t help it, I love their fries. My other problem is that I love Burger King double Whooper’s too. If I could find a McDonald’s and a BK next door to each other I would be dead in six months. Hopefully I will never stumble on this glorious arrangement.
Today was a McDonald’s day. I had a good evening on the bicycle yesterday so I thought I would reward myself. Yea I am not buying that excuse either.
As I was finishing up my super-sized order of fries an elderly couple sat across from me. This McDonald’s is across the street from the hospital and near several doctor’s offices. The man had a bandage wrapped around his arm, the kind you get when they take blood. He sat down in the booth while his wife ordered their food.
I didn’t pay any attention to him until I heard a loud thud, he had dropped his phone on the table. As he picked it up his arms and hands jerked back and forth in a violent motion. I am not sure what disease he was battling with such a vicious tremor but it was excruciating to watch.
His wife returned to the booth, placed his drink close to him with a straw and handed him a burger which unwrapped like a six-year-old would tear open a present on Christmas morning. I slowed down eating my fries from six at a time to one so I could watch this couples interaction over the course of their lunch, just one of many lunches they have probably had in 40, 50, maybe 60 years of marriage.
I have a friend who told me recently that he and his wife are “taking a break” from each other. They aren’t calling it a separation, just a break. They are coming up on their 30th anniversary, the kids are out of the house and he began to wonder “is that all there is?” We talked a little about the need to find some common ground, interest, and activities that they could do together to fill the hole left by their kids. My wife started cycling with me and I joined her on her hikes, both things she now kicks my ass doing but activities we enjoy and can do together.
He hemmed and hawed about things he liked but she hated and vice versa. I assured him I got it. It took not weeks but months, many months to get my wife comfortable riding a bicycle on the road. It tried my patience’s to no end but, in the end, I created a monster so much so that she now shames me if I try to blow off one of our regular rides because I am not feeling it or there is a 10% chance of rain.
But here is the thing I told him, look down the road twenty years from now, you have cancer, or a heart attack, who do you want beside of you? Or she has cancer, who do you want beside her?
As the man at McDonald’s put his head down to take a sip of his drink his wife instinctively reached over and held the cup for him. That is love, love in years.
There is nothing easy about being married. People change, people grow. What we believe and accept as truths move up and down, right and left over time. Hollywood tells us it is easier to just walk away. The perfect relationship is out there waiting on us and probably looking for us as well. But that’s Hollywood, storybook and fairy tales.
I saw the truth about relationships today at McDonald’s. For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. Love isn’t always easy. It will and can drive you crazy. But in the end love wins. Love always wins.
“Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.” – Buddha