Sheri Morris died of a disease that crippled her so severely that in the last 5 years of her life, she could not do for herself. She could breathe, but she could not speak, or walk, or feed herself. She yawned incessantly, and every time she did, her jaw would lock, freezing her mouth in a permanent yawn. She was totally incapacitated. Everything had to be done for her.
Dan Morris, her husband, married her knowing she had Friedreich’s Ataxia, a disease that causes progressive damage to the nervous system (Wikipedia). But he could not resist his attraction to one of the sweetest and most innocent young women he had ever met.
Dan and Sheri were close friends of my family, so we saw the slow but steady decline in her ability to stand, or walk, or talk. On several occasions, I was invited to stay with them in their home. I watched Dan care for Sheri’s every need. He would feed her, wash her, massage her feet, comb out her long brown hair, talk to her, joke with her, and unlock her jaw dozens of times every day and night.
Dan worked from home when Sheri could no longer be left alone. And when he went anywhere, he would load her up in a wheel chair. Sheri was not a heavy built woman by any means, but she was not tiny. Dan would lift her from her hospital bed located in their front room and place her in a wheel chair. He would lift her again and secure her in the car. She went everywhere he went. Dan is a preacher. On Sundays, while he was preaching or teaching, several of the good sisters at the Galt Church of Christ would tend to her.
Dan remembers Sheri asking, “Are you my husband?” and feeling very alone at night, waking occasionally, to unlock Sheri’s jaw. He also remembers asking the perennial and very human question, “Why?”
Dan cared for her till the very end.
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Genuine love, according to the Bible and centuries of Western thought, is characterized as benevolent. Love is motivated by a desire to do what is in another person’s best interest without being poisoned by ulterior motives. Shakespeare argues that even when the one loved may have changed (even for the worse) your desire to do what is in their best interest remains on course. “Love is not love/Which alters when it alteration finds,” and “It is an ever-fixed mark/That looks on tempests and is never shaken;/It is the star to every wandering bark…” (Shakespeare, Sonnet 116). Genuine love is also characterized by the desire to be with the beloved.
When I think of love as defined by the Bible in passages like 1 Corinthians 13, I think, first and foremost, of Jesus of Nazareth and the love God commended toward us while we were yet sinners (Rom. 5:8). But I also think of Dan and others like him who have acted out the very meaning of love.
Dan still preaches in Galt, CA and is married to a sweet and supportive wife, Bethel. They have a son named “Morro”. The Lord continues blessing his latter days. Thank you Dan.