Mr Bob Sweeney is my Mailbox Friend. We often check our mail at the same time in the afternoon. We met one day last spring when I ran out to vigorously greet my husband home from work. I have a tall (and attractive) husband who stands up well to having a wife thrown at him, so this is what he often gets. It's fun. After I threw myself at Jon and got a kiss in return, I went to check the mail, pretending that I was the least bit grown-up, and was greeted by an older man who introduced himself (it was Mr Sweeney) and said that that was the sweetest thing he had seen in a long time. His wife, Anne, is in a nursing home with Alzheimer's and he said he was encouraged by our obvious love.
It was a really nice thing for him to say and probably more encouraging for the newly married couple working our way through our first year of marriage "with fear and trembling" than for him. Today I saw him again and we talked about his son that went to UVA, how Jon was doing in flight school and Anne. Jon and I just celebrated our first anniversary - they just celebrated their fiftieth. He said Anne can no longer speak or use her hands & legs. She's basically bed-ridden. "She's comfortable. I guess she's happy," he said almost trying to convince himself, "or at least resigned..." In his voice was no trace of selfishness or frustration at the inconvenience of visiting a wife twice a day who can't respond to him, much less fulfill any of his needs. He was only concerned for her happiness. His frustration was at his inability to make her more happy and more comfortable.
I almost hugged him. I've never had a Mailbox Friend, and who knew when I got one that he would be exactly what I want to be when I grow up. I hope that the gratitude I feel right now for what Jon and I enjoy together stays. I hope that I remember Mr Bob Sweeney's selfless love every time I am tempted to be selfish with my husband. And most of all, I can't wait till I get to meet Mr & Mrs Sweeney in heaven, and the four of us can hang out. And I can say thank you to them for the encouragement their faithfulness brought to our baby marriage. I can't help thinking how lovingly Jesus looks at this whole painful time in the Sweeney's life and thinks how very much Mr Sweeney's love for his wife looks like the way Christ "loved the church and gave Himself up for her".
And that is the account to-date of my Mailbox Friend Mr Bob Sweeney, who looks just like Jesus.