The Last Kiss
Wednesday, August, 20, 2014 | 12:00 AM | by asmith
The Last Kiss
“Love is patient and kind. It is not envious or boastful. It is not rude or self-seeking. Love forgives, protects, trusts, hopes, and always endures. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:3-8)
I have helped tie many marriage knots. Following the declaration of marriage, you issue the invitation for the first kiss: “The knot has been properly tied. You may kiss your bride.” That first marital kiss sizzles even if the couple fizzles!
Recently, it was my holy privilege to witness a couples’ last kiss. It rates as one of the most meaningful moments of my experiences.
Margaret Davis met Berry Grant on a “blind-date-beach party” in 1965. Berry was a dashing young naval officer. Margaret was a senior at Florida State. God connected their hearts. On August 5, 1967, they married and shared a first kiss as husband and wife. Berry brought his bride back to Montgomery. He became a successful travel agent. They became an integral part of our First Baptist Family. They traveled the world together, raised a beautiful family, and served the Lord with faithfulness.
I always admired Margaret and Berry’s marriage. Berry helped us organize a cruise to Alaska in 1993. On the ship, I spent a lot of time in their company. They obviously enjoyed each other. They listened with attention and respect when the other spoke. They held hands. Their marriage evidenced health, stability, and Christ-like love.
A few years ago, Berry and Margaret shared some sad news with me. Berry was diagnosed with encroaching Alzheimer’s. With faith and courage, they affirmed their desire to face this difficult assignment together. We prayed that God would give them an extra portion of His grace, wisdom and strength.
Nancy Reagan called Alzheimer’s the “long goodbye.” Everything began to change for the Grants except their fervent love for each other. Berry’s brilliant mind grew dim. His behavior became erratic and difficult to manage. Berry’s athletic body withered to 117 lbs. Pneumonia crept into his respiratory system and death was approaching. Margaret asked me to share some of his final hours. I went to room 100 of Crowne Health Care. Margaret sat by Berry’s left hand, and I sat on the other side holding Berry’s right hand. His unblinking eyes stared at the ceiling. His breathing was shallow, rapid and rattly. Margaret would rub his arm, caress his cheek and gently pat his head. She plucked their wedding picture from a bulletin board and began describing their wedding day. She ran her fingers through Berry’s hair and exclaimed, “How I love this man!” She tenderly kissed his left cheek. Berry had not blinked his eyes in 30 minutes as he stared blankly into the ceiling, but when Margaret kissed him, he tilted his head to the left and his lips met hers. Apparently, he too was reliving the moment of their marriage – 47 years ago. Apparently, he was not distant but present. It was a stunning moment to see this beautiful, Christ-centered couple share their last kiss.
Anyone can start a marriage, but not everyone finishes the course. Margaret and Berry promised they would be faithful in “sickness and in health.” They personified God’s description of true love in 1 Corinthians 13. Their love stood patient and kind, towering over the enemy of Alzheimer’s. Their Christ-like love refused to fail.
If God has given you the gift of a mate, hear and heed His call to become Christ-like lovers. Choose to be faithful to the finish and your last kiss will be sweeter than your first.