Chords of Love

Chords of Love

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Book of Christmas Virtues

Chords of Love

She lay prostrate on the wooden floor, unable to lift her head or move her body. Five minutes passed. Ten. Fifteen. All because she’d reached for a Christmas ornament and fallen out of her wheelchair.

What a day for John to be late, she thought, as her immovable position grew more and more uncomfortable.

The wedding photo on the table had tipped over with her. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a beautiful bride and a handsome groom, each with Irish blue eyes and dark hair. Friends told her that raising three children hadn’t aged either of them one bit.

John’s car crunched in the snowy driveway. Her heart pounded as she heard him leap the stairs of their split-level home two at a time, eager to see his wife. Stunned to find her on the floor, John dropped to his knees—and wept with her.

Not out of sympathy. Peg’s quips disarmed any of that maudlin stuff. Out of love—the deepest kind.

At that almost sacred moment, I intruded. “Oh I’m sorry,” I said.

According to my custom as Peg’s physical therapist, I had knocked and let myself in. Her husband dried his tears, scooped up her thin body, paralyzed from multiple sclerosis, and carried her to the bathroom. This was his habit every lunch hour.

“I’d do the same for you if things were reversed,” Peg told him, her pluck restored.

“No you wouldn’t. I’m too big for you,” he said with a broad smile as he placed her back in her electric wheelchair, flipped on the Christmas tree lights and left for work.

“Do you hurt today after the fall?” I took off my hooded coat and red scarf.

“No, go ahead and do the routine,” Peg said, then added, “I went to the counselor yesterday.”

“How did that go?” I stretched her arm.

“Okay, until he asked, ‘How’s your intimate life?’ I answered him, ‘Fine, how’s yours?’ That quieted him right down.”

No one tampered with this lady’s love life or, for that matter, with her willingness to persevere. When therapy was over, she asked me to place a nativity set on her lap tray so she could arrange it. She knew her fingers were useless, but hey, why not give it a try? It was the holidays.

I shook my head with wonder.

Eager to show my love for this special couple, that very evening I gathered a group of carolers outside their family room window. I saw Peg seated in her wheelchair before the fireplace and John behind her like a tall, protective sentinel.

One, two, three. We struck the first chords, “Deck the halls with boughs of holly . . .” Trombone lifted, bells ringing, we sang a festive medley.

They invited us in for our grand finale, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” The oven smelled of John’s pumpkin bread. A little shy of strangers, they retreated to the back of the garland-strewn room.

When we strolled away, I glanced through the frosty window at Peg’s forever smile. Her husband had resumed his attentive stance—her guardian, lover, friend for life. Oh, sure, Peg and John were pleased we had serenaded them. But their happiness came not from others. It came from an unbreakable cord of love, the kind that binds.

Once upon a time I had skimmed through a photographic album about couples. The artist prefaced his work with the words, “We two form a multitude.” Surely, he must have known Peg and John.

Margaret Lang

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