Never Too Late For Love

Richard Slater died six times. He came back to life for her.

Posted in , Mar 26, 2015

Richard and Elaine getting married. Photo by Krista Tacey-Cater.

Does God set us up for love? If we only keep the faith?

That was a question raised by a recent New York Times article I read, written by Mary Morris, a single mother in California who had a powerful, unforgettable dream one evening–which involved a trip to Richmond, Virginia, a place she’d never been. A job ended up bringing her there, where she met a lovable guy named Larry… and the rest, as they say, is history.

This article was on my mind when I opened a letter this week from Mysterious Ways reader Richard Slater, an 85-year-old resident of The Brook Retirement Community in Roscommon, Michigan:

I’ve been in and out of hospitals since I caught pneumonia nine years ago and had my first heart attack. I’ve had at least six heart attacks. Died six times, they told me. Even the doctors at first thought I would die; one even gave me six months. After my heart bypass, I lived alone for ten years. I began to question God–why did he keep me alive after all that had happened?

Then I fell down and broke my leg, and after that I couldn’t live alone anymore. I’m nearly deaf, and almost legally blind. I ended up in a nursing home, only they don’t call it that, it’s a retirement community. It’s still a place of old people and a couple of nurse aides. Pills, pats and baths.

Then, lo and behold, there she was, living right across the hall. We met in the dining room…

Richard and Elaine at their wedding. Photo by Krista Tacey-Cater.Her name was Elaine McKie. Richard and Elaine began spending time together. Both were widowed after decades of marriage, both believed that the romantic part of their lives was over. But Richard couldn’t help but feel that Elaine was the reason he was there:

We snuck across the hall at 3 A.M. to be together. The nurses all knew about it, but they just smiled and let it go.

He began writing her love letters. “Written long-hand,” he says, “because typing is cold, impersonal:”

As soon as I saw you, I knew you were the one. So I leaned over where you sat in your wheelchair and said (very low-voiced), ‘You are the one I’d like to hear…’

I waited in the hall until I saw you coming, and something pulled at me and you came right over to me. I put my head in your lap and you stroked it. You knew. The rest was easy. It’s really truelove knows no age. You have captured my heart.

Shortly after Richard and Elaine shared their first kiss, Richard asked her to marry him. She laughed it off–but days later, asked him if he was serious. At first he pretended not to know what she was talking about… but then made a formal proposal. The two of them told their families and the manager at the home, who all gave their blessing to the union.

The doctor recently told me
I needed to get a stress test.
I told him, “What stress?
I’m happily married!”

On Valentine’s Day, the two tied the knot in front of family and friends in The Brook’s community living room, the words “Just Married” written on the back of their wheelchairs.

They couldn’t go on a honeymoon, but they did move in together–into Elaine’s apartment at The Brook. Richard writes:

For those ten years I lived alone, I didn’t know that my future wife was also living alone in the same town. We must have been in the same stores and walked the same streets every day. We never met, and I don’t know why.

Did God keep me alive and us apart for ten years on purpose? Did he do it to give us time to grieve and heal? I know what I want to believe, and that is that God does work in mysterious ways.

That was three years ago. “The doctor recently told me I needed to get a stress test,” Richard says, “I told him ‘What stress? I’m happily married!’”

Like Richard and Elaine, I’ll also be celebrating three years of marriage, this July. Given the circumstances that brought my wife and me together–a story I told in Mysterious Ways–I’m inclined to agree with Richard. Sometimes a hidden hand brings two people together. Mary and Larry. Richard and Elaine. Nicole and I. We’re living proof.

How about you? How did the “greatest relationship expert of all” have an influence on your love life? Was your love match pre-ordained? Or perhaps a powerful sign convinced you in was time to move on? Share your stories with us. 

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