About a year ago, I was working a temporary, job assignment, where
I was required to, hand shovel, a mountain of dirt, from one location, and spread it out, at another. The job was going to take about three days, to complete. I wasn't very excited about having to do it, but I needed the money. I realized, sometimes, "A man's got to do, what a man's got to do, " So, I picked up a shovel, and began shoveling.
I thought I was going to have to complete the project, alone, but to my relief, another man was called in, from the employment agency, to help me. I was so happy to see him coming across the field, with a shovel in his hand.
At least, I would have some company, to help me through this dreadful day of digging. I shook his hand, introduced myself, and then directed him towards, "The Mountain". I watched his jaw drop, as he looked upon our task, at hand. I laughed, and told him we better get started. It was going to be a long, day.
Although I was pleased to have some help, I didn't have much confidence in this man's ability to endure the rigor of the job. I doubted he would be able to finish out the day. He was not a healthy person.
His name was Jim, and he was probably, about 45 years old, but he looked much older. He was deathly, skinny, and had great, trouble breathing. He needed to rest, after every few shovels of dirt he lifted into the wheelbarrow.
At first, I didn't have a whole lot of respect for the man. He appeared to be a real loser. He was in very poor health, he dressed like a bum, and he drove an old, beat up car that looked like it had just been driven out of a junkyard.
He didn't bring any lunch with him. He brought nothing to drink, either. He later told me, he had nothing to bring. He barely had enough change to buy a dollars worth of gas, to get him to the job-site.
I have to admit, I was irritated that the agency sent a man, "like this, " to dig dirt, all day long. What were they thinking ? This man was hardly able to work, at all. I was tempted to ask the foreman, if he could send him back, and have the agency send me a "real" man..who was capable of digging some serious dirt. I didn't want to have to "carry" this guy, all day long.
I didn't have the heart to report his "weakness" to the foreman. He began to tell me how badly he needed the work, and how thankful he was, to have it, that day. I began to feel pity, for him. I decided to have mercy, on the poor fellow, and allow him to stay. I was going to have to "carry" him. He needed my help.
At first, we didn't have much to say, to one another. I was still a little irritated that he was my partner, for the day, and I think he could sense that. After about an hour, we began talking, out of sheer boredom. It was then, that I realized, I was wrong about this man.
He wasn't a loser, at all. He was a hero, fighting for someone else's life. Someone he loved, very much.
He began to tell me his story. It turned out to be one of the sweetest "love" stories, I've ever heard.
Jim was married to a woman, much older than himself. He had met her when he was a very, young man, and, at the time, their age difference was not such an issue. But now, 25 years later, Jim's wife had become sick, with age, and completely disabled. She was no longer able to work, or do anything, to help him pay the bills. She was not even, physically, able to help herself, anymore. She had become totally dependent, on him.
Jim wasn't in much better shape, himself, but he had no choice but to carry on, .for the both of them. He told me how hard things had been, lately, for, he, and his wife. They were about to be thrown out of their apartment, because they couldn't afford the rent. The utility companies were threatening to shut off their utilities. They rarely had enough food to eat. The household bills, far out weighed their income.
His wife required medical attention, and prescriptions, that they could never afford. Jim's car was falling apart. His auto insurance had been canceled, and his driver's license was suspended, as a result of not having car insurance. He told me it felt like the whole world was on his shoulders. He needed so much help, and there was none.
Jim refused to quit. His wife was depending on him, and he couldn't let her down. His friends pleaded with him, "Jim, you've got to let her go, man ! She's nothing but a burden on you. You can't afford to take care of her, anymore. She needs too much help. She's killing you, brother. You've got to let her go. Let her family, or the State, take care of her. You can't do it anymore. She's draining the life out of you, man ! You've got to let her go ! "
Jim looked so disgusted, as he told me of his friends, advice. It hurt him that they would even think that way, towards the love of his life. He told me, "I could never just let her go. She saved my life, years ago. I was a hopeless, alcoholic, for years and years, and she saw me through it all. She went through, HELL, for me, and she never considered her own need. She loved me, and she refused to give up on me. It was her love, that finally gave me the strength to stop drinking.
I haven't had a drink in over 7 years now, and if it weren't for her, I could've never stopped. I wouldn't be alive, today, if it weren't for her.
"I don't care that she's a little heavy, now. She's sick, she can't help it. I don't care that she can't work, anymore. I know she feels bad about it, and that she would, if she could. I don't care that she needs me to take care of her every need. I'm more than happy to do it. I would do anything in the world, for that woman. If she needs me to wipe her rear-end, I'll wipe it. I love her. "
What started out to be a miserable day, for me, turned out to be a day of great inspiration. I was so "moved" by this man's love and devotion for his wife. His story still brings tears to my eyes, today.
Fighting for his, every, breath, he dug that dirt, for her. By his love, he made it through the day, and the next, and the next, until the job was finished. I have no doubt that he's still out there, somewhere, today, being a "hero" for his wife.
The wedding vows, of old, come to my mind, as I consider this couples love, for one another. "For richer, and for poorer, in sickness, and in health, until death do us part. "
To be honest, I'm not sure which one will go first, .Jim, or his wife. All I know, is this. As long as Jim has a breath left in his body, he'll be doing all he can to love, and provide for his wife.
To him, it is no sacrifice, at all. He loves her.
In conclusion, I recall these words written in the Holy Bible. "No greater love, has anyone than this, that they would lay down their life, for another's. "
Through Jim's weakness, I saw strength, much greater than I had ever seen before. Though his body was weak, .his love was strong. Stronger than anything this world had to throw, at him. His love still endured.
So, true, is the saying, "Love Conquers All."
M Adam Roberts lives and writes from Clearwater, Florida.
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