My 89 -year-old mother-in-law Norma Adams died two weeks ago and last weekend my 90-year-old father-in-law, Philip Adams, stood up at her graveside funeral and gave the most magnificent tribute to his wife of 66 years. For those of you who are struggling with the modern definition of marriage, or for those who are trying to understand the meaning of marriage, take five minutes and read this eulogy of love and faith so eloquently delivered by a 90-year-old widower who “just jotted down” a few words minutes before he spoke them in front of family and friends.
During a class which I attended at Catholic University many, many years ago, the professor, a priest, strayed off the subject and asked, “What is the primary purpose of marriage? ”
We all looked at each other puzzled and gave the standard answers – “to have children, companionship, etc.” The professor answered, “No, the primary purpose is for the spouses to help save each other’s souls.”
At the time I was sort of puzzled because, first of all, I was not sure a soul existed, and the concept of being saved was somewhat foreign to me. But now that I am sure what saving a soul means, I am ever more sure that if any person helped me in saving my soul it was Norma — in a thousand and one ways and occasions for which I shall be eternally grateful.
And speaking of gratitude, and my being in such great debt to Norma, I am reminded of something I read years ago where a widower went to his therapist to try to get some relief from the inconsolable pain of bereavement he felt from the recent loss of his wife. The doctor asked him, “If he had been the first to die would his widow have suffered?” The patient said, “most assuredly because we were very close.” Well the doctor replied, “Just think of the sorrow you have saved your wife by taking on the burden of mourning for her.”
So I, who owe so much to Norma, take some solace in making a small recompense for the tremendous debt I owe her.
As Jesus said, “Unless you become as little children you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.” So Norma, who was childlike not childish in her love for people – especially her family – is surely in the mansion that God has prepared for those who love Him.