When they attended Mass together, they always sat in the very front pew. She has Alzheimer’s. No one told me this, but from the few conversations I have had with her over the four years I’d been at that parish, and from observing how her husband and others behaved around her, that was my conclusion. A friend of theirs did confirm this to me right before Christmas.
They often attended the Mass with the children’s choir. The “Gloria” that we used at that Mass has hand-clapping during the refrain, and they would stand there, and he would sing, and she would clap.
He is a Secular Franciscan and an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist. When he would leave the front pew to assist with the Sacrament, someone from a neighboring pew would quietly sit down with his wife, guide her through the Communion line and back to the pew, and wait with her until he returned after the purification of the vessels.
When he sat down again with her, her eyes would light up and she would smile the most beautiful, happy smile I have ever seen. And he had a smile just as big to return to her.
They’re both in a nursing home now; his health has been affected due to the burden of her care. But even though I no longer see them at church, I will never forget the look on her face every single time he sat down next to her.
And strangely enough, I’m not the only one thinking in this vein just now.