Miracles of love and care

September 11, 2013 | Viewpoints
By Linda Wiens |
Irma and Cornie Neufeld

No matter what language you speak, romantic love is one of the greatest gifts to give or receive. When it’s new, it’s fireworks, warm fuzzies, pure electricity! As you mature, that love encompasses honour, respect, devotion, unity and even mutual caregiving.

Remember those vows which come straight from
I Corinthians 13:4: “Love is patient; love is kind”? Often they are followed up with “For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health . . . .”

Thankfully, two men of faith in my life took those vows and commitments to heart when illness struck down their spouses and traditional care-giving roles were reversed.

• In 1955, when Uncle Cornie and Tante Irma repeated those vows, they had no idea what was before them. When Cornie suffered a near-fatal heart attack, Irma was by his side. Time and prayer allowed him to regain his health.

Nowadays, Cornie tends to Irma, who has Parkinson’s disease, a thief that steals your life away, bit by bit. He cared for her at home for many years, but as the disease progressed and she became wheelchair-bound, the time came for her to move into a personal-care home.

Even so, Cornie remains her constant companion and caregiver. He spends most of his days with her, helping her dress and do her hair, assisting her at mealtimes, praying and reading with her, taking her for visits to their former shared home, and tucking her in at night. He brings her to church on Sunday and to special events, and when a one-bedroom apartment became available in her complex, he jumped at the chance to live nearby.

• My own story begins with a feeling I’ve always had: God sent Ron, my husband of 40 years, to me. Who else could have brought together two people who hadn’t seen each other in years and who didn’t even travel in the same social circles?

Our love is for life. However, our life together was almost cut short when I suffered a major life-event 21 years ago. That October Sunday morning, my husband and our son David went to church as usual. They left me at home because I had taken ill during the night. While at church, Ron had a “nagging” feeling that something was really wrong with me. (We believe that was God’s message.) So he and David left the service to go home, only to find me unconscious, lying on the floor.

For three months, I was in a coma on life support. During that time, Ron spent some time with me every day, travelling 45 minutes each way, all while maintaining a job. He also kept a journal for me to read upon waking, since he, my man of faith, always believed that God would restore my health. Prayer circles were set up for both of us.

Rehabilitation began immediately upon my “awakening.” Again, Ron continued to be by my side every day!

Six months after that fateful Sunday, I was allowed to move home, but only after our house had been adapted for my needs. Two more years of therapy lay ahead of us. But finally, after learning to walk, talk and process all over again, I was able to return to work. We continue to have challenges related to my health, but we manage, giving thanks to God for the gift of life while firmly convinced that miracles of love and care still continue to take place!

Linda Wiens is a member of St. Catharines United Mennonite Church, Ont. She is the new communicator for Women of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada and a member of the executive of Mennonite Women Canada.

Irma and Cornie Neufeld

The Wiens family includes, from left to right, back row: Linda and Ron and son David; and front row: daughters Danielle and Keira.

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Thank you.
This was a nice story to read on a cool, wet morning in Berlin. Ron, Linda and I go way back to our young days in St. Catharines. I want to wish both of you good health and continued joy in your lives together.

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