"A Promise Kept" by Robertson McQuilkin

I just now finished this book by Robertson McQuilkin. Last month the evangelical world was abuzz about Pat Robertson’s comments regarding Alzheimer’s Disease in a spouse.

See http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/nationnow/2011/09/pat-robertson-infuriates-faithful-with-alzheimers-comments.html for one example.

My response was to condemn Rev. Robertson’s comments but then to go to www.amazon.com and purchase a copy of A Promise Kept. A number of years ago, I heard McQuilkin's story and was so inspired that I call him one of my modern heroes. Thanks to Pat Robertson’s foolishness, I was motivated to look up and purchase the book.

A small yet delightful book is how I would describe it. The cover has a picture of his dear wife Muriel who developed Alzheimer’s at the tender age of 55. When the reader opens it, he discovers that the chapters are cleverly and lovingly entitled by traditional marital vows. “In Sickness and in Health,” “To Love and to Cherish,” “For Better, for Worse,” “From This Day Forward,” “For Richer, for Poorer” and “Till Death Do Us Part.”

Each chapter chronicles the journey with Alzheimer’s. It begins with doubt as to whether this really is the dreaded disease. Then the diagnosis and then adjusting to it, slowly, methodically, until it became obvious that this college president could no longer do both his job and minister to his wife. He said the decision was easy.

Robertson McQuilkin told the student body that he promised until death do us part so as a man of his word, integrity played a part. However, fairness did too. For 42 years, Muriel cared for him. If he were to spend the next 40 doing the same for her, he would not be out of her debt. Even more so, he loved Muriel and he stated that he didn’t have to care for her; he got the privilege of doing so.

Well meaning people who disagreed with his decision, especially when Muriel deteriorated, tried to get him to put her in a nursing home or some other option. “Get on with your life,” was too often the advice. “She doesn’t know you anymore,” they would assert. Still McQuilkin’s determination never faltered. He made his decision so many years ago in the presence of God and the company of witnesses. Muriel had a faithful companion until the end showing unconditional love.

This book had me wondering how I would do. Certainly, I would love to say that I would do what he did. I do love my wife and I meant what I said so many years ago. Yet I hesitate, not because I waver at such but I am not there and the proof, it is said metaphorically, is in the pudding. Perhaps my endearment for Robertson McQuilkin, a man I never met, is proof enough of what I would do.

“Lord God, if this were your will for me, help me to keep my marital vows and to fulfill them until death do us part, Amen.”

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