Love Never Fails

by Bethann
England, United Kingdom

Frank was a soldier, and all the time he was in Burma as a POW, he dreamed of getting out and having a life. He suffered terribly, and was left scarred physically and emotionally. When he came home, his fiancee’s parents worried his scars meant he was too damaged to make a good husband. They forbade him to marry “Bette”.

Frank and Bette obeyed, as was done then. Neither married. Frank worked hard, cared for his parents, an aunt, then a disabled nephew. Bette was the same, the maiden aunt always helping others.

She too helped people avoid public-funded care, helping people spend their last days in homely comfort.

She and Frank spoke often, but visited infrequently due to distance. As Bette’s health failed, she was moved to a beautiful, privately-funded nursing home. She loved her beautiful sunny room, the gardens and duckpond. She was waited on compassionately, as she’d cared for many others.

Frank, however, was in a dingy, dark rented flat, with no central heat or bathtub. Yet Frank never seemed to mind. We nurses brought Frank “extras”, worried he’d forego warm socks or dinner. We loved his gentle ways, humour, and the little gifts he made for us.

Love Never Dies He was patient as we bandaged his legs wounds — painful ulcers still weeping from his torture scars.

One day Frank asked a nurse to take him to see Bette. She drove Frank on her own time. She watched Frank hold Bette’s hand, obviously comforting her. Oblivious to Bette’s dementia, Frank spoke heartfelt words. Before he left, he kissed Bette, and she said, “Frank?” The nurse ran out, sobbing.

After that, if necessary, we paid ourselves for a taxi to get Frank to Bette. Once I asked him how she afforded such a nice nursing home. Putting finger to lips, he showed me sheaths of legal documents, insurance, investments, pensions.

He said “I pay. Please: If something happens to me, make sure Bette never wants.” I was dumbstruck. Frank lived in poverty to ensure Bette’s exceptional care.

Over time we convinced Frank to eat better and get a mobility scooter so he could visit Bette himself. Asked if he was happier he said, “I was afraid if I took anything, there wouldn’t be enough for Bette. I couldn’t bear to see her go without…”

Then the call from the nursing home, “Please get Frank”. Beautiful Bette had passed away in her sleep. Frank said his goodbyes.

Returning to his home, I found Frank happy. “She’s free”, he said. “No more pain. Someday, I’ll join her — free, too.” Bette’s 18 years of care cost Frank one million dollars. He then trust-funded the nursing home for free care in Bette’s name — endowing two beds for the forseeable future.

The day I left to move to another place, Frank took my hand to share a secret. “We married in 1951, but didn’t want to hurt her folks. Did I fail her?” I told Frank he was my hero. He’d lived in poverty with enough to live like a king — for Bette’s sake.

Originally published as HeroicStories #720 on July 31, 2007

 

21 thoughts on “Love Never Fails”

  1. Wow, now that is love everlasting ! I had to take a deep breath afterwards, it was so griping a story, for seldom does anything effect me like that.

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  2. This is a beautiful story, yet so sad too because even though they were married, they were never afforded the chance to actually live together. All because they honored her parents wishes to an extent. I’m not sure many of the kids being brought up today would ever consider this much selflessness.

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  3. Greater love has no man, then he who lays down his life for his friends. Truly this man showed the depth of his love through actions, deeds and most impressive, self sacrifice. My father is such a man as this, Who is a true hero of mine, just like superhero Frank.

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  4. It’s stories like this that inspire me to try to better myself little by little. I think it’ll teach me the importance of self-sacrifice and remind me that we are all human and that actions speak louder than words. What Frank did for Bette proved his love for her, and despite the trauma he went through as a POW, he was a compassionate man. We each have to remember to help someone out selflessly, no matter how big or small it may seem. Because to another person, that small act of kindness can go a long way.

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  5. Someone’s cutting onions around here, I swear. I remember that story when it was first published. I had a sniffle then, too. Beautiful.

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  6. So glad you are back with these heart warming stories, and this is no exception. Franks parents must have thought they were doing right for him, yet stories like this tell us that is not the case. Nobody can really know what is right for us but ourselves. Thanks

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    • It was Bette’s parents who objected, not his and it makes me wonder how his own parents felt about her folks’ reactions. It came to mind after a hard enough honest to goodness cry, that just maybe it turned out worlds better by his choosing to “obey” her parents. It made me wonder, could it have been that their refusal to allow him to marry their daughter really worked on his behalf and became a gift? I asked myself if it could be that he spiritually required another seemingly insurmountable challenge to continue learning to care and love as deeply as he managed to care about life as a POW, and that maybe her parents actually gave him a priceless gift and way for his indomitable spirit to keep rising above? Unusual soul qualities in both Bette & Frank. Most nurses are my heroes too.

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  7. Thank you. When I read stories like this, I no longer sees the world as large and threatening. I cried, but they were tears of emotion, a mixture of joy, sadness and thankfulness.

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  8. It’s a very beautiful love story. But extremely tragic that they never lived together. They could have enjoyed a beautiful married life and had children and grandchildren. I’m grieved for the happy lives they could have experienced with each other daily and never did.

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