Emlyn is a godly man, to whom I cannot hold a candle. He radiates Jesus, yet he sees not the light that shines from his face. He is a man who suffers; not physically; no, his suffering is a deeper kind. Four years ago his father died following a road accident and a year later his son-in-law died of cancer, aged 36 years, leaving a widow and two young children. Emlyn’s own wife, Eva, continues the deteriorating course of senile dementia. He struggled to look after her as the other problems assailed him, but eventually he had to submit to the fact that alone he could not provide the 24-hour care she needed. She had been a lovely Salvationist (Salvation Army church member), greatly loved, hard-working and very caring, which adds to the pain of seeing her in her present condition. She is little more than a ‘bag of bones’. She cannot feed herself, clean herself or communicate at all with those around her. Everything has to be done for her. She has no control over bowel or bladder and is now cared for in a local hospital.
Emlyn is only 62 and is one of our healthy, sprightly retireds, and he feels a great guilt that Eva should ever have to enter such a place as a geriatric ward; he feels that he has failed her. Despite the fact that he couldn’t possibly have managed any longer and despite assurances from many sources, he still feels guilty. Daily he goes to the hospital at 2pm, and carries Eva to his car and straps her in and either takes her for a ride or takes her home for a few hours. To visit him whilst she is there is a unique blessing. He sits with her and feeds her yoghurt, grapes or the like. He talks to her and jokes too; he loves her, though any sensitive eye can see his hidden grief and pain. She cannot and does not reciprocate. When she messes herself, as invariably she does, his words of pity are for her, not himself. ‘Poor Eva! Poor Eva!’ Often as I watch them the words ‘For better, for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health’ enter my mind. After an hour or two she is gently carried to the car and is taken back to the hospital.
END PART ONE