I noticed them when I was going through the airport security line. They both seemed a little confused, but while his confusion seemed more related to the process of getting into the secured area of the airport, hers seemed thorough and complete. I admired that they were flying on their own, actually, with her condition, and the fact that they appeared to be in their late 80’s to early 90’s.

When he felt confident that he understood what to do, he set about getting their things into tubs and onto the belt. She kept trying to pull away, distracted by other things, and he kept gently reeling her in.

Love is patient, love is kind.

Another older couple was in line behind them, both able-bodied, able-minded, and apparently off to a vacation somewhere, if their touristy-looking apparel was any indication. The man looked back at them and smiled, making small talk, and I wondered to myself if he was a little envious of their situation. But even as I thought it, he politely ended their conversation and turned to his wife with the most brilliant smile. He kissed the top of her slightly disheveled hair and, standing behind her, put his arms around her as if she was a valuable prize.

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

I smiled as I watched them exit the line, having successfully entered the secured area, and wondered at their story. In my heart I wished them good travels, then headed on my way. After grabbing a water and a quick bathroom run, I got to my gate and there they were. They were talking to the flight attendant at the desk, presumably about some special needs his wife might have. I got settled in a seat at the gate and was close enough to hear the conversation. He was asking for some extra boarding time so he could help his wife with her toileting needs without having to deal with the public women’s restroom. The way he spoke about her was laced with such respect, I actually teared up.

It does not dishonor others.

He continued asking for a few small things that would make the flight more comfortable and less upsetting for her; some requests, I knew, would make it less comfortable for him. The flight attendant was (to her credit) very helpful, and onto the plane they went before they called a single group to board.

When I got on the plane and settled, I noticed them a couple of rows ahead of me across the aisle. When the beverages were served, he’d ordered something for her and she became agitated when he tried to give her a sip. Her arm flew up and hit the bottom of the cup, splashing its contents right into his face and down the front of his shirt. He never took his eyes off of her, quietly putting the cup down and speaking in low, soothing tones until she had calmed. Only then did he take a napkin and dry himself off, not once looking flustered or upset.

It is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

The flight attendant, seeing what had happened, came to his aid with more napkins and to see if he needed any other help. She asked how long they’d been married. He proudly answered “Seventy-two years!” She marveled at that number (as did I and everyone within earshot), then asked where they were traveling to. He said he was taking his “gal” to a doctor in Dallas for a second opinion. Apparently the Florida doctor “didn’t have her best interests at heart. My Ellen’s a fighter. That man has given up on her, but I’m going to find somebody who won’t.”

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

They shuffled off the plane in Dallas, and on into the rest of their years together, completely unaware of how they affected me, and probably everyone else who was watching. I’m thankful for the very real display of love – real, true love – played out before me today. And honestly, I don’t think Ellen has to worry about finding someone who won’t give up on her. I’m pretty sure she’s been hanging out with him for the past 72 years.

Love never fails.


Today’s scripture, woven through the text, is 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV. No additional scripture references needed. 🙂