CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 1 December 2018

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Lifetime companion

When a couple decides to step into the church and get married, they should have decided that this lover is their Mr. Right or Miss Right. They need to be very certain that this lover is their Lifetime Companion, meaning that she or he will no longer consider anyone else from then on. This couple must be willing to walk together till the end of their life’s journey.
 
I have known an elderly woman called Auntie Cheung for about 20 years. She passed away quite suddenly in October this year. I was shocked, sad and piteous! To her husband, sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren, she was a kind, wise and highly responsible CHO (chief home officer). She loved her family without reservation. As long as anything was good for her family, Auntie Cheung would do her best to provide them or serve them. 
 
To the community, she was highly respected by the people of Hong Kong because she left her legacy to those whom she did not know by becoming “a Great Body Teacher” in the Medical Faculty of the University of Hong Kong.
 
When we first met, Auntie Cheung’s health was weak. Later, she realised that the cause of her ill health was due to heavy overwork in her younger days. Her health worsened with major illnesses and big operations in recent years. Despite her fragile health, our heavenly Father granted abundant blessings and graces to her. She has two sons, two loving daughters-in-law and a loving husband who took care of her with full respect and loving care. 
 
Uncle Cheung is a very simple, happy man. He could be filled with bliss even though he just received a small model bus. Auntie Cheung was a smart and an intelligent wife! However, because of the long years fighting illnesses, it was inevitable that Auntie Cheung might have little temper sometimes. She might express dissatisfaction over some trivial things, but Uncle Cheung always responded with a happy smile. 
 
What impressed me most about what I witness in their marriage is that Uncle Cheung and Auntie Cheung willingly and continuously showed utmost sincerity and utmost true love by serving each other. 
 
Auntie’s health had suffered for more than a decade. Her hospital visits were countless and the time spent in the hospital increased tremendously. However, in spite of all these trials, Uncle Cheung supported his wife with absolute patience and encouragement. I observed that Uncle Cheung bore his wife’s physical pain in his heart; he just kept it to himself without a word of anxiety or complaint or dislike. 
 
On the night of Auntie’s death, Uncle Cheung quietly accompanied her to the hospital. He endured tears until she completed walking her life’s journey. Looking back on their journey, I have two words flashed through mind: Lifetime companion. “Life” meaning the whole life; living a lifetime. Just because of their willingness to love, this couple accompanied each other and served each other unconditionally for more than 40 years. 
 
In Auntie Cheung’s sharing on, My 80 happy stories, she once wrote, “I suddenly felt that I have been married to the right man!” This strong feeling told me how much Auntie had appreciated her husband!
 
I remember their wedding vows: “From now on, whether the environment is good or bad, whether wealthy or poor, whether healthy or sick, whether successful or failing, I will support you, love you, and work together with you to build a beautiful family until the day I pass away… I will always be faithful to you from the beginning till the end!”
 
Although Auntie Cheung and Uncle Cheung are not Catholics, they fulfilled their marriage vows in words and in deeds. I highly respect them with full admiration. 
 
Compared with the marriages of many couples today, there are different impurities, and there may be a lot of other temptations. Marriage seems to be measured with a scale. We seem to be less morally conscious, less patient, less tolerant and less or even least grateful to each other. Instead we are becoming more self-centred, more proud and more calculating. 
 
During the wedding, you might be touched when you say “I do,” but what are you really saying “I do” to? When your spouse is sick and suffering, are you determined to take care of them with one heart and one mind? Will there be one belief in everyone’s mind that “You are my only one. In any case, will I do my best to accompany you and to complete walking the life journey with you?” Or have you considered if you have really kept your promises to our heavenly Father?
 
November is the month of the Holy Souls. Apart from praying for the souls in the purgatory, I hope that this article will serve as a little loving gift to my highly respected Auntie. 
 
May her soul rest in peace in heaven, and may she pray for all the families on earth. Amen. 
 
Helen