The Best Romance

Okay, I admit it … while channel-surfing Monday night, I paused at ABC‘s The Bachelor just as the last rose was about to be presented. (See my previous post here.) I didn’t catch the fainting part, but while I watched, the unfolding melodrama seemed as predictable as if I’d written the script myself.

I’ll defer to Chris Harrison voice-overs to belabor the question of whether Ben will “find true love.” In splendid counterpoint to that bachelor’s situation, I offer a tale of genuine love — in action.

Jim and Lynda have been married almost forty-eight years. In 1977, Lynda was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis; throughout the illness, Jim has remained steadfastly by her side. Word came via email last week that Lynda is nearing the end of her days on this earth.

Author Irving Stone once observed:  “Story writers say that love is concerned only with young people, and the excitement and glamour of romance end at the altar. How blind they are. The best romance is inside marriage; the finest love stories come after the wedding, not before.”

Certainly, Jim and Lynda epitomize Stone’s depiction of “the finest love stories ….” — two ordinary people who have loved extraordinarily. Details of Jim and Lynda’s life together were included as part of a Focus on the Family series that discussed facing crises in marriage.

An article in the Summer 2007 issue of Brown Bulletin (a publication of John Brown University) also chronicles their journey. (If you read anything today, read this article; it captures the precious beauty of unconditional love demonstrated day-in and day-out.)

In 1968, I entered John Brown University (JBU) as a transfer student. One weekend, early in the semester, my parents came to visit. They were impressed with JBU and my dad quickly decided it was the place for my younger brother (who, this being the Vietnam era, was in danger of being drafted). “See what you can do,” my dad told me.

What I could do? I was a 19 year old transfer student. Having pursued the conventional approach to college admissions — submitting written application, obtaining transcripts, etc. — I didn’t share my dad’s hope that I might be able to “do” something.

Nevertheless, being a compliant daughter, I went to admissions where I met Jim. He listened when I explained my mission, and his can-do response was:  “Tell your brother to come. I’ll take care of things.”

Jim eventually became an instructor; my husband and I took his classes. We moved away briefly but after returning to the area, we saw Jim and Lynda from time to time. (Though ours is not an intimate association, we’ve always been cordial friends.) What a blessing to see Jim honor Lynda, valuing her presence, comfort, and input! An equal blessing to see the joie de vivre reflected in Lynda’s endearing smile!

[I began composing this post Tuesday; today an email arrived with news Lynda entered into the Lord’s presence last night.]

Irving Stone would call theirs a “fine love story.” I wholeheartedly agree.

Renée