From Chicken Soup for the Romantic Soul

The Sun Had Come Out

To love and to be loved is to feel the sun from both sides.

David Viscott

Their love story began in high school when Martha Fleming began dating Glenn Stockton. On September 22, 1934, they were united in marriage.

They were never separated from that time until just after Christmas last year when Glenn became a resident of Wesbury United Methodist Retirement Community. Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, his family could no longer care for him. In January, Martha, who had been deaf since she was six, became ill with severe back pain.

Diane Dickson, the couple’s daughter, recalled that only after tests were completed March 24 was it determined the incredible pain was coming from a huge mass, which turned out to be a tumor.

Diane and her brother, David Stockton, took turns staying with their mother from that point on, with assistance from family members and from the staffs of Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice of Crawford County.

Diane said, “Hospice care was very, very, very good . . . and much appreciated by the family for their support,” including the pain management care so her mother could rest comfortably. Grandson Mike Dickson said, “The VNA and Hospice—they do wonders.”

Martha’s illness worsened very quickly and soon she was unable to eat, Diane recalled, adding her mother had to be fed through a syringe. They never told Mrs. Stockton her illness was lung cancer, not a heart condition.

In the meantime, her husband had frequent visits from family members and never failed to ask about his sweetheart.

Diane believes that somehow her father sensed how it was with his wife. When he asked, he was told she wasn’t well. His physical health continued to deteriorate to the point Wesbury staffers informed the family they thought he wouldn’t live long. The nurse asked if he wanted to go home and see his wife and he said yes.

Diane said she told her son, “Bring him home.” They knew it wasn’t just for a visit, but for the rest of his life. They didn’t know how short a time that would be. The entire family was there for the homecoming Friday.

Glenn Stockton couldn’t talk much and neither could his wife. But words weren’t really necessary between these two who’d spent their entire lives together.

She was bedridden. He was wheeled to her bed in a wheelchair.

She opened her eyes, looked up, and there he was. The love of her life, once more holding hands, offering her comfort, assuring her of his love. The body was weak but the love was not.

Family members agree the moment was unforgettable, the emotions so real, the feeling so deep, the picture so complete.

After a while, she closed her eyes and he indicated he too was ready to lie down. But not before he said the last words they would hear him say.

He squeezed Diane’s hands tightly as he said, “Thank you.” Another family member had to bend down to decipher the words.

The thanks was for bringing him back home, to say I love you and good-bye to the woman he had loved for so long.

Diane said her father looked terrible, but while lying in a room in a hospital bed next to his wife, he looked “more comfortable, more peaceful” now that he was home.

Neither Glenn or Martha was well enough to be out of bed.

But they were in the same room preparing for another chapter of their lives. Diane recalled that several times her mother opened her eyes and looked around the room and her eyes opened wider each time she noticed her husband. And as their grandson said, “They let nature takes its course.” They didn’t hasten their deaths; they only lived until God had chosen for them to die.

Shortly before 1 A.M. Sunday, the family left the room, some to go to their separate homes for a night’s sleep after a long vigil. No one was in her room with Mrs. Stockton except her husband, who was sleeping in the bed a few feet away.

When her son returned to the room after only a few moments, Martha Stockton had made her final journey.

Grandson David Dickson is convinced Grandma had the last word, including when she would peacefully pass from this world to the next.

“She just quit breathing,” he said. “It’s pretty amazing.”

Knowing how frail his grandfather was, the family wondered how long Mr. Stockton would live after his wife died. When they removed her body from her bedroom early Sunday morning, her husband was asleep. But their daughter believed he sensed something.

The hospice nurse came at 8 A.M. and told the family that death was very near.

“It was like he knew she was gone and he wanted to go, too,” Diane Dickson said.

She recalled the family sitting by his side and saying their last farewells. She remembered assuring him, “Mom’s waiting for you; take good care of her.”

Twelve hours and forty-five minutes after his wife died, Glenn Stockton, like his wife, “just stopped breathing.”

Their grandson noticed that five minutes later, the rain which had made the day so dreary stopped, and the sun shone through.

He said it almost was as though his grandmother was at peace.

He said he could just hear the woman who always told him what to do getting through to her husband and saying, “Get your butt up here.”

And somehow heaven became a brighter place because Glenn Stockton had followed his wife on their final journey.

The family believes she who was so strong had two last wishes: that her family be spared seeing her die and that she always be with her husband.

She got those two wishes the day she left this Earth.

And although they grieve the death of two at once, her family members are comforted by the belief that both are together again.

“It’s like it is the way God wanted it,” Mike Dickson said. Diane agreed.

“Even though it’s hard,” she said. “It’s God’s way of saying, ‘I’m going to keep them together; everything is going to be fine.’”

The love they left behind, the love the family shared, especially during those last forty-eight hours, was far too incredible to forget, Diane Dickson said.

But especially the memory of seeing two longtime sweethearts share one last handclasp, one more smile, one more memory.

The family found the experience so incredible, so inspirational they will remember the time of dying as not just of sadness, but also of love.

For to them, the love shared by Martha and Glenn Stockton is a love story which really has no end.

Jean Shanley
Submitted by Mrs. Rebecca Lucas

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners