Yesterday I went to Emporia to visit my Uncle Lawrence and Aunt Wanda. They are such a wonderful couple. I stayed and chatted with them for a couple of hours. It was a beautiful visit. I got to hear many stories about my Grandpa, who died before I was born. Uncle Lawrence, being four years older than my Dad, has different stories to tell, ones I had never heard before. They also told stories about my Uncle Willard, whose funeral I attended the day before my birthday last month. We discussed my job, my parents, my brother and all of their family. It was so sweet to listen to them tell stories together. The whole time, he would dote on her. At times holding her hand, getting her anything she needed. As it turns out, it was their 64th wedding anniversary that day. I was so happy to be able to be there on their special day.
This, however, is a bittersweet love story. The day of my Uncle Willard's funeral, we got the terrible news. Aunt Wanda had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was given only 3-6 months to live. She has refused any treatment, not wanting to prolong the pain. She now spends most of her time in bed, which is where she was when I arrived yesterday. To see her weak and pale was heartbreaking. More heartbreaking was to see my Uncle Lawrence, a strong-willed, stubborn man-like all of the Palmers-in tears. She stayed strong throughout my visit, but he was weepy. You could see the distress all over his face. Here was his bride, the one person he had spent almost his whole life with, laying in bed, dying.
Uncle Lawrence said something very poignant. He told me that the man is supposed to die first. There was every reason why he should have been the one to go before her. He had smoked and drank. He was diabetic. He had a heart attack a few years back. Instead, she was going to go before him. The reason he thought it worked out this way touched me very deeply. He had to be there to take care of her.
He was doing a wonderful job taking care of her. Getting her medicine, rearranging her pillows and most importantly, holding her hand. And I got to witness it all first-hand. I feel that the bond between them is one of the strongest I have ever known. When Aunt Wanda passes, whenever that might be, I will remember yesterday and I will smile knowing that she was happy.