He Really Loved Her

A 96-Year-Old Woman's Marriage Advice

Sheba’s apartment is covered in knickknacks. Tokens from Israel sit on the coffee table, vases from China on the bookshelf, and some German dolls watch from a shelf over the dining room table. “Come in! Come in! Have a seat! Oh, just move the mail,” she says.

I’m in scrubs with several phones, keys, and first aid trappings weighing my pockets as I putter around her kitchen, cleaning. I’m working in Raintree Square Assisted Living in Indiana and Sheba is my 11:30 wellness check. The woman who trained me told me never to sit down in Sheba’s room because she’ll talk until one of you falls asleep. I pull out the dining room chair anyway.

She points to one of the vases on the bookshelf. “That is one of my favorite colors. That blue,” she said. She bought it from a (very expensive) vendor in China while her and her first husband, David, were there to smuggle Bibles in. It was a fake, and David thought so when they bought it, but he was too good to her, she said, and bought them anyway. A little smile stretches across her face as she looks at me. “Are you married?” she asks. I shake my head. “Well marry a man like David.”

David passed away in 1989 after 45 years of marriage and whenever she talks about him smiles. He really loved her. Here’s some advice from Sheba, a 96-year-old woman with a successful marriage.

They got married when she was 19 just as World War Two was starting. David was drafted into the air force after four months of marriage. Sheba followed him.

The two travelled all over the United States as he went through basic training and got his wings. The only time she wasn’t with him was when she returned home to give birth to their first son in 1946, David junior, and then a couple of months later, they went back to David senior’s base.

This was one of the hardest times in Sheba’s life. She had to work to support herself in each new place and finding a job got harder with each move. The hard days were the ones where she thought about herself. The easy days were the ones where she thought about her husband. Marriage is work and compromise. So she worked and compromised for him, without thinking of herself.

“Things were different in the war. Everything was faster.” They got married faster. They were under more stress sooner. But they got to support each other through it. They never fought in those early years; there just wasn’t time. Even though followed him, he only got so many days off base. Their time together was made precious by scarcity.

Their marriage certainly wasn’t perfect – no one’s is – but he loved her with actions not just words, and she did the same. He loved her by providing for her until he died, and even afterwards. He loved her by fighting for her. He loved her with gifts. He knew every aspect of herand he loved the good and accepted the bad with grace.

She loved him by following him. She followed him while he was in the air force and all over the world once he was out. She loved him by listening to his war stories year after year. She loved him by respecting his work. Even now, sitting in her easy chair, hunched from arthritis, she can’t say anything about David without mentioning how much he loved her.

After David died, Sheba stayed single for seven years. This was not for lack of men trying, she’s always quick to add, but out of respect for his memory and a little belief that no one could ever love her like David did.

Our love stories may not involve a world war. But with hard work and compromise, maybe even a little bit of scarcity, maybe we’ll get close to what they had. I really want to.

Related Businesses

Related Articles

No Results