I refuse to see the critically acclaimed film “Amour,” despite the fact that it is nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Foreign Film, Screenplay, Director and Actress.
It’s a love story between a long-married couple. The wife has a stroke, becomes debilitated, and her husband must care for her.
Sounds simple and touching, right?
The reason why I won’t see it is due to this brief plot summary [Spoiler Warning] from PluggedInOnline.com:
As Anne’s condition deteriorates, Georges struggles to feed her. When she stubbornly refuses to drink and spits her water back at him, Georges gets angry and slaps her face (much to his own shame). As things grow progressively worse, Anne begins repeatedly crying out in pain.
Georges finally can’t take Anne’s lack of capacity, her anguish, her pain any longer. He ends her life by placing a pillow over her face. She jerks and convulses for a time. Then lies still.
The husband “loves” his wife so much that when the going gets tough, he kills her, setting himself up as God. He takes life that only God has the right to take.
His mercy is murder.
Contrast that fictional story with the true love story of Robertson McQuilkin.
His wife, Muriel, developed Alzheimer’s disease in her 50s. As her health deteriorated, he decided to step down from his prestigious job as president of Columbia Bible College and Seminary in South Carolina, to care for her. Here’s an excerpt from his testimony about caring for his beloved wife:
I never think about “what if.” I don’t think “what if” is in God’s vocabulary. So I don’t even think about what I might be doing instead of changing her diaper or what I might be doing instead of spending two hours feeding her. It’s the grace of God, I’m sure.
An interviewer asked, “But do you ever think about what you may have given up to care for her?” McQuilkin responded,
I don’t feel like I’ve given anything up. Our life is not the way we plot it or plan it…. All along I’ve just accepted whatever assignment the Lord gave me. This was his assignment. I know I’m not supposed to have that kind of reaction, but you asked me, and I have to be honest. I never went to a support group. I had enough of my own burdens without taking on everybody else’s. Sometimes I have accepted an invitation to speak at one of these. A lot of angry people. They’re angry at God for letting this happen—“Why me?” They’re angry at the one they care for, and then they feel guilty about it because they can’t explain why they’re angry at them…. I say, in acceptance there’s peace.
Valentine’s Day was always special in our house because that was the day in 1948 Muriel accepted my marriage proposal. On the eve of Valentine’s day in 1995 I read a statement by some specialist that Alzheimer’s is the most cruel disease of all, but that the victim is actually the caregiver. I wondered why I never felt like a victim. That night I entered in my journal: “The reason I don’t feel like a victim is – I’m not!” When others urged me to call it quits, I responded, “Do you realise how lonely I would be without her?”
After I bathed Muriel on her bed that Valentine’s eve and kissed her good night (she still enjoys two things: good food and kissing!), I whispered a prayer over her: “Dear Jesus, you love sweet Muriel more than I, so please keep my beloved through the night; may she hear the angel choirs.” The next morning I was peddling on my exercycle at the foot of her bed and reminiscing about some of our happy lovers’ days long gone while Muriel slowly emerged from sleep. Finally, she popped awake and, as she often does, smiled at me. Then, for the first time in months she spoke, calling out to me in a voice clear as a crystal chime, “Love…love…love.” I jumped from my cycle and ran to embrace her. “Honey, you really do love me, don’t you?” Holding me with her eyes and patting my back, she responded with the only words she could find to say yes: “I’m nice,” she said. Those may prove to be the last words she ever spoke.
Which story do you think demonstrates true amour on this Valentine’s Day?