Milton Hotvet was in a hospital bed in his home the first time I visited him. It was 1982. His wife, Eva, had cared for him since an auto accident in 1957, after which he'd never regained his health.
"They wanted me to put him in a nursing home," Eva says, "but I was just doing what my marriage vows said. The hardest thing was that his personality changed after the accident. He was a different person." This meant that Eva, married only 12 years at the time of the accident, had to learn to love him again.
"I kept hoping he would get better, but he never did," Eva says. Still, her sense of duty didn't waver.
Eva's commitment always left me in awe when I gave Milton communion in Colman, S.D. Her patience and hopefulness--she cared for Milton for 33 years until he died in 1990--made me rethink minor disagreements with my wife. Her witness fortified my efforts to be a worthy husband, to be willing to love even at great cost.
"I figured it was my mission in life," Eva says. "And I did get four great kids and 11 grandkids from it! One of my sons became a nurse, gaining compassion from caring for his Dad. I feel richly blessed."
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers