From the doorway, Roy quietly watched his darling wife standing in front of the cook stove. She wasn’t one for fancy recipes, but to Roy, everything she cooked was “good eatin.”
Sophie breaded a pork chop and gently placed it in the frying pan as she had done so many times before. Roy could remember well the first meals she cooked as a newlywed almost 60 years before. The tears welled up in his weathered, hardened eyes, not only from the fond memories of the past, but also from his present grief.
You see, every 10-15 minutes Sophie would start another meal, forgetting she had already begun one. In addition to the pork chops, there was a chicken stewing on the back burner, and a pot roast in the oven. She was growing more and more forgetful.
Months earlier Roy noticed that Sophie would wander into a room to dust, forgetting she had just finished dusting moments before. More than once he caught her making their bed with fresh laundered sheets for the second time in one day. She was making several entrees for lunch and dinner—and now she had three going at once.
Sophie turned from the stove with all burners going, walked into the living room, and picked up her needlepoint to work. Roy knew that she would forget the dinner and burn the food. So without mention he adjusted the heat and finished each part of the dinner in time. Sophie continued to work on the needlepoint, pausing for long moments to vacantly stare.
Protecting his wife
Roy realized it was time to act. He fixed things around the house to protect his wife, putting in hidden switches on the stove, turning down the temperature on the water heater to prevent burns in the bathtub, and removing plug-in appliances to keep Sophie from hurting herself.
To the people around them, life looked pretty normal for Roy and Sophie. They attended worship, went shopping, and even visited others for special occasions. Everyone knew Sophie was a bit forgetful, but no one knew to what extent. They said it was “cute” how Roy and Sophie were never separate, always together … “such sweet love.” But little did they know the depths of the love they observed.
It wasn’t easy for Roy to watch over Sophie, help her dress, oversee her cooking, and be with her at all times. But he willingly served, thinking often of the hymn, “I need Thee, O, I need thee. Every hour I need Thee …”
No one knew
It wasn’t until one Saturday morning in early April that the family and the neighbors finally learned of the depths of Roy’s committed love.
In a mid-morning phone call, Sophie told her friend Lena, “Roy won’t wake up. I’ve been waiting for him for breakfast. He is still sleeping, and I can’t wake him.”
Lena responded quickly and kindly, “Sophie, I want you to sit in your chair by the phone, and then I want you to hang up so I can call your sister. Can you do that and promise not to move until I get there?” Sophie, obedient in her confusion, waited for Lena and her sister to arrive.
When they entered the house, they found my grandfather, Rudolph “Roy” Walter, in bed under the covers wearing a peaceful expression in sound eternal sleep. The doctor said, “His heart just wore out.”
My grandmother had no idea what had happened; Sophie had no concept of death or life. At the viewing, she observed her husband lying in the wheat-colored coffin. Touching his hand she said, “Roy’s cold; maybe we should cover him.”
It wasn’t until the family had to care for Sophie, that they truly understood for the first time how much Roy cared for her. Sophie needed help at every moment, and Roy had been willing to give it.
Roy died happy, knowing he loved his wife the only way he knew how—serving and caring for her, “until death do you part.” He knew that love was more than romance; it is constant, determined, serving, and uncomplaining.
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