I Wanna Hold Your Hand
by Major Chick Yuill –
Margaret and I went to see the movie ‘You’ve Got Mail’ over the holidays. We loved it! Unlike ‘Titanic’–which regular readers of this column will recall was definitely not to my taste–this is a movie with no special effects. Just good acting, believable characters, a witty script, tantalizing scenes of New York life ( a city I love), some great songs, and the age old theme of a man and woman falling in love. By the end you just know that Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are made for each other. A life of wedded bliss awaits them.
The problem is, of course, that real life doesn’t always work out like the plot of a romantic comedy. Couples fall out of love, romance dissipates, and the dark shadow of divorce all too often looms over the most promising of marriages. I’d bet my bottom dollar that there were more than a few in the audience who left the cinema that evening thinking, ‘If only…’ And for all of them, and for any of my readers who share their doubts, I have a message of hope. True enough, romantic comedy doesn’t stand up in the face of real life. But there are relationships that outlast the romance; there is commitment that holds people together when the comedy has faded.
I know that because of my own marriage which has lasted these 30 years. To be sure, we’ve enjoyed more comedy than we had any right to expect, but we’ve also known the moments of tragedy and even the days of lethargy that every marriage has to face. And Margaret and I would testify to the value of dogged perseverance and the joy of a lifelong commitment.
But I want to share with you a moment in the cinema that reminded me once again of the dignity and beauty of marriage–and it wasn’t on the silver screen! We sat in a row with gap at the end to allow space for a wheelchair, and shortly after we settled down an elderly couple came and sat next to us. They had obviously shared a lifetime together, but the passage of time had treated them very differently. She was still an attractive woman, vivacious and well dressed, able to make casual conversation naturally and easily. I could imagine just why her husband had lost his heart to her half a century or more ago.
The years had not been nearly so kind to him. Speech and movement were difficult and it was easy to see that he must have suffered at least one major stroke. His wife negotiated his wheelchair into the space at the end of the row and then settled herself into the seat next to him. We shared some casual conversation and then, just before the movie began, she turned to her husband and said quietly, ‘Let me move your wheelchair back a little so that I can hold your hand.’
I was glad that the lights went down and the music came up almost immediately because I get embarrassed crying in public! Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are good on screen, but in the couple of hours that followed they never once produced a moment as powerful as that one. That elderly couple had not only enjoyed the comedy of marriage; they had turned its seeming tragedy into beauty. They had flooded the semi-darkness of a movie theater with the light of a love that nothing can extinguish.
I guess that’s why all this week two very different things have been running through my mind. I keep thinking of the words of Jesus: ‘What God has joined together, let man not separate.’ (Matthew 19:6) And I keep singing one of the earliest Beatle songs:
Can I tell you something,
I think you’ll understand;
When I say that something,
I wanna hold your hand!‘
I might just make that my motto for 1999!