“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. It is not proud, it is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails...” [1 Corinthians 13:4-8]

A dear friend sent me this beautiful story. With the prevalence of Alzheimer’s these days, there are so many loving husbands and wives caring for their loved ones who do not even know who they are. If you have loved ones who have been affected by Alzheimer’s, you know how it is. This story helps us realize what you are going through, and the beauty of true love.

“It was a busy morning, about 8:30, when an elderly gentleman in his 80’s arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb. He said he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00 am.

I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would to able to see him. I saw him looking at his watch and decided, since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound. On exam, it was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors, got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound. While taking care of his wound, I asked him if he had another doctor’s appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry. The gentleman told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife. I inquired as to her health. He told me that she had been there for a while and that she was a victim of Alzheimer’s Disease.

As we talked, I asked if she would be upset if he was a bit late. He replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognized him in five years now. I was surprised, and asked him, “And you still go every morning, even though she doesn’t know who you are?”

He smiled as he patted my hand and said, “She doesn’t know me, but I still know who she is.” I had to hold back tears as he left. I had goose bumps on my arm, and thought, “That is the kind of love I want in my life.”

True love is neither physical, nor romantic. True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be.”

A few years ago we attended the funeral of one of my favorite aunts. She had always been one of the most loving, caring and fun people to be around I had ever known. Several years ago she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The last few times we saw her, she did not know who we were, but she knew that she loved us and we loved her. She would hug us and kiss us just as she always had. She had lost her ability to recognize us, but not her ability to love us. I know all cases aren’t that way, but hers was, and she was a beautiful lesson in love. I look forward to seeing her in heaven, where she will remember all our names, and where we will all experience the truest love of all – the love of Jesus Christ.

“May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” [2 Thessalonians 3:5]

—Dr. Sam Smith is the organizer of Butterfly Ministries and can be reached at ssmithkate@aol.com.