As she volunteered her time, she got back more than she ever imagined.
- Posted on Aug 15, 2018
Meeting men was easy; meeting the right man was the problem. I was beginning to think I’d be single forever, and the amount of energy I spent looking for Mr. Right was exhausting. I finally decided, Lord, I’m almost 36. I’m just going to make the most of my life instead of waiting around for the phone to ring.
I took my mom on a dream trip to Hawaii and volunteered at my church. “We could really use Eucharistic ministers to serve communion to shut-ins on Sundays,” my friend at church, Mary Ann, who was also the coordinator, replied to my question about what the most pressing need was. I signed up.
At the training session, a tall, handsome businessman showed up too. I had noticed him once already at church, and had been curious about him then. Mary Ann told me that his name was John. “He just moved to Texas from California,” she added, then felt obliged to point out, “and he’s single.”
Sure, I thought, but I’ve been set up before and these things never work out.
The next Sunday morning I arrived at the Life Care Center nursing home for my assignment to serve communion to the residents. I admit, I was a little nervous. Then I saw John.
He was courteous as a native-born Texan, but had that casual California way about him too. We shook hands politely. “We’ll do it together,” he said. “It’ll be easy.” Still, the strong smell of disinfectant unnerved me. Some residents were nonresponsive, while others were confused. What kind of care can I really offer? I wondered. But I focused on the prayers John and I said with them, and the few minutes of conversation that he somehow always made time for. Thanks to him, I got through it just fine.
“Betty,” John explained later, “it’s not just communion we bring these folks. We are their Sunday service—sermon, hymns and coffee hour all rolled into one. This is their spiritual care.”
John sure had a knack for knowing what to say. He’d ask about a photo, a bedside book. Most of all, I loved the way he prayed—earnestly and informally, in a deep, rich voice that put me at ease in a way I couldn’t quite explain.
Soon we found reasons to meet outside our Care Center visits. We went out for coffee, for dinner, on dates to the movies, but our work at the nursing home remained the core of our relationship. When John discovered that I was five years older than he, he even kidded me about it. “You’ll be a resident at the Care Center soon enough,” he joked.
“That’s okay with me, as long as you’ll be my Eucharistic minister.”
John’s mom flew out to meet me. My mom thought John was wonderful. That sealed it. We talked some about marriage. And to myself I began to wonder: When will he propose?
The Sunday before Valentine’s Day we made our usual communion rounds at the Care Center. Afterward, John said that he had something he wanted to show me. I pushed open the door to one of the unoccupied rooms. There were balloons and flowers everywhere. A big banner hanging from the ceiling proclaimed: BETTY, I LOVE YOU. I turned to John. He was down on one knee. “Will you marry me?” he asked, handing me a small box. Inside was a beautiful ring.
I was overcome. Not just by John’s proposal, but by how it had all played out. When I looked for a way to help care for others, God had found the perfect way to care for me.
This story first appeared in the August 2002 issue of Guideposts magazine.