The most famous love stories of all time usually involve young smitten lovers, passionately in pursuit of the happily ever after fairytale, but rarely do we think about the actual ever after part. This is not your typical Romeo and Juliet romanceÖ itís much more meaningful. This is the real life story of Paul and Hilde Bishop. Theyíve been married almost 59 years, which is amazing in itself, but not what makes this such a beautiful love story.
Roughly four years ago, I started working at Unihealth Post Acute Care. All new employees are given a tour of the facility as part of the orientation process. The tour on my first day truly left a lasting impression on my heart Ö I remember walking around the corner at the nurseís station and being struck by one of the most touching scenes Iíve ever witnessed. Hilde Bishop was sitting in her wheelchair while Paul sat beside her, one hand on her shoulder and the other holding her hand. I would soon realize this was just a normal everyday scene, but thatís what makes this story so incredibly beautiful. You see, Paul and Hilde have been married almost 59 years. Up until eight years ago, they were your average retired couple, enjoying all retired life has to offer. But in 2006, Hilde suffered a stroke, leaving her unable to care for herself. She also is unable to talk or eat. A feeding tube provides her nutrition. She communicates by squeezing her hand or crying. Her eyes are usually fixed straight ahead of her, so direct eye contact is rare. As she stares into the distance, you canít help but wonder what sheís thinking. Although, Paul always seems to know what she needs. In my opinion, all she needs is him. He arrives at the facility around noon daily (she usually cries until he gets there). A normal day for him consists of sitting with Hilde and comforting her. When Hilde squeezes his hand, he knows itís time to get up and walk with her around the facility in her wheelchair. He stays until he tucks her into bed every night.
Most people canít even imagine this kind of devotion, but for Paul itís a small sacrifice to make for the love of his life. Actually, to him itís no sacrifice at all. He loves her and will do whatever it takes to be by her side. For all Hilde does not have, or is unable to do, she has something so many people will never have. She has love, truly unconditional love.