Hamilton. Legit New York bagels. Historic buildings. A crisp walk in Central Park with my husband. This week was one filled with beauty beyond my ability to take in. Yet, the most beautiful thing I saw this week was not a Broadway musical with incredibly talented individuals or intricate architecture or authentic pasta.
The most beautiful thing I experienced this week was the love of an aging wife for her sickly husband. Ammachee and Appacha, the Indian title for Grandmother and Grandfather, came to keep our chaos so we could enjoy a trip to NYC. As such, we have had the privilege of being with them for the past few days.
Their day to day is hard. No pretty words for it. Parkinsons Disease shakes the loved ones of the sick one just as it causes its victims to shake. Amma, aging herself, has been the primary caregiver and company for Appa since his diagnosis years ago. Waking nearly hourly throughout the night, refusing to sleep on a comfortable bed to keep her husband company on the couch, ordering her day around his needs, Amma has been a physical manifestation of love and sacrifice in our home this past week.
As I watched Appa doing the Physical Therapy exercises she was modeling for him to help keep his stiffening body more limber, my eyes filled with tears. I realized that this painful performance deserved a standing ovation as much as any Broadway show. I did not have to travel to NYC to see beauty, it was living in my home in the form of a committed couple who has seen each other through so much.
Every once in awhile, Appa smiles and cracks an hysterical joke, reminding us all that underneath the body being ravaged by a terrible disease, he is still the same. In those moments, there is a glimmer in his eye that lets you know that you are looking past the effects of medications and disease and at him.
I wish I could freeze time in those moments, capture him, all of him, there. I want to see him in his youth, in his element, being the life of the party and the pied piper of the children. And one day, I will. What a glorious day that will be. Appa will chase the boys and be able to play hide and seek, will be able to walk, even run unhindered and unaided.
In the meanwhile, our part is to love him and love Amma as she loves him. To show him dignity in the midst of a disease that is rendering him powerless. To learn from him that humility and dependence are a thing of beauty, the very thing that Jesus demands from His people. To learn from him that we are not entitled to the everyday actions we take for granted like brushing our teeth or walking to the car or the restroom. To learn from him what it means that while the outer man is perishing, the inner man is being renewned day by day. To keep stacking up the weights in the scale of suffering that will be vastly outweighed by the coming weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
Amma and Appa remind me that G’Joe and I have so much more to learn. I am thankful for God’s lavish gift of a trip to New York with my husband of over a decade; however, I even more thankful for the model of a marriage that has weathered suffering and still chooses sacrifical love.
Join me in a standing ovation for all the various acts of His sacrifical story being played out in homes and hospitals and hospices on every corner in every city of this globe. No architecture or five-star meal or petite pastry could ever rival the most humane, the most beautiful show we will ever be privileged to see on this sphere.