‘Till Death Do Us Part – In Loving Memory of Walt

It was the text I dreaded: “We are moving him to hospice today.”

In Loving Memory of Walter E. Marth - a #staymarried blog about a love that lasts a lifetimeOur dear friend Walt had been battling lung cancer for a long time. His health was compromised so that any infection that might ordinarily be handled with antibiotics, any blood clot that would otherwise be cleared with simple blood thinners, could be devastating. I knew he was in the hospital. We were praying and keeping in touch and hoping for the best. When I received his daughter’s text, we knew we needed to prepare to say goodbye.

I responded, “We would like to come visit. Would that be ok?” I didn’t know if that would be intrusive or comforting, but I had to ask. They welcomed us and we made arrangements to have our girls cared for the next morning so that Tony and I could be there together. We didn’t know what we would do or what we could say once we got there, but Walt and his wife Nancy have been so dear to us over the years that we wanted to be available in any way we could.

After we dropped our oldest off at preschool, we made our way to the hospice house. We didn’t quite make it to the room before we were met by Walt’s daughter in the hallway. She burst into tears and told us that he had just passed away about 30 minutes before we got there. We wrapped our arms around her and cried together.

We then made our way into the room where he laid, still and pale, and sitting nearby was Nancy, his wife of 38 years. We hugged and cried, she thanked us for being there and said, “Sometimes things aren’t fair. It’s a fact of life, but it is such a hard fact.”

We sat and listened to their stories of the days and weeks leading up to this very morning. We cried, held hands, looked over at sweet Walt and as sad as we all were, we agreed that seeing him laying there so peacefully was so much better than watching him struggle to breath and gasping fearfully for air.

Marriage, ultimately, is the practice of becoming passionate friends - quote on #staymarriedHis body was there, but it was clear to all of us that he was not. His kindness, his generosity, his humble smile were not laying in that bed. Nancy and I sat together and held hands and after talking through the events that led to this moment, she said, “I don’t want to go home. I don’t want to be there without him. I had a feeling when we left the house to come to the hospital that this might be the last time we were leaving this home together, but I just don’t want to be without him. I have never been without him in 38 years.”

The Vows

There has been this trend in modern culture to do away with some of the more traditional marriage vows. Some have opted for “as long as our love shall last” in lieu of “until death do us part.” There are those that commend this change in the language as being more realistic considering the current divorce rates. Others believe that this shift dooms a couple to failure.

We watch couples like Walt and Nancy and many others who have been married decades longer than we have. We have seen that it is commitment, not emotion, that keeps a couple together. It is a desire to serve one another, to let go of selfish desires, to choose the wellbeing of the person beside you before your own that keeps a marriage strong. These couples have figured out something that is actually very unnatural – that love is not about what you can get out of a relationship, but instead about what you can give. It is in the giving that your love grows.Love is not about what you can give... quote on #staymarried blog about long lasting marriage

Walt and Nancy

These two have meant everything to us. Their love and faithfulness is something we have aspired to in our own marriage. We have been on the receiving end of their quiet generosity more times than we can count. They have celebrated the arrival of each of our babies by bringing meals and gifts and cards. They have been supportive and present to pray over every crazy transition in our lives over the last eight years.

Walt and Nancy have been passionate friends, to us and to each other, and would always rather be together than apart. And here we are witnessing the part of their marriage vows where they promised to be together until death separated them. Yet, even with her husband’s passing, Nancy is not separated from Walt. She leaned into me and said, “It’s not like losing half of myself. It is like losing all of myself. I don’t know what I’ll do without him.”

We will be here for her. Her family, her children, her grandchildren will be here for her. Still, her adoration for her husband, her commitment to their life together will not fade. They committed their lives to one another, not once and for all, but every single day.

Please honor them with us by reading their love story. We interviewed them as our very first “Real Couple” blog post where Walt shared this advice with us…

“Don’t miss an opportunity to be with your wife! Staying married is not all there is. At our age, we know couples that have been married thirty years or more, but they really aren’t together. They live in separate bedrooms, some in separate houses, vacation separately, and don’t have any shared interests. Nancy and I spend a lot of time together, even doing things the other might not love so much. You know, shopping is not on my list of favorite activities, but I go with her so I can be near her. We take drives together just to talk…”

You can read the rest of their love story here. Help us celebrate this beautiful couple, this incredible man, his wonderful wife by leaving a comment below. You may leave your condolences for Nancy and their family if you like. We would also love to hear from you about how their marriage, and other long-term marriages, have encouraged you to #staymarried.

In Loving Memory of Walter E. Marth - a #staymarried blog about a love that lasts a lifetime

A Memorial Service will be held on Friday, June 27, 2014 at 1:00pm at the Chapel of the Resurrection in Bothell, Washington.

If this post was meaningful to you, you may also like to read some of the other posts we’ve written on wedding vows, like For Better or Worse, In Sickness and In Health, and Choose Love.

New to #staymarried? Welcome! Check out why we started this blog and my first entry to get a little background.

Thanks for stopping by!

~ Michelle

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8 thoughts on “‘Till Death Do Us Part – In Loving Memory of Walt

  1. Walt, you will be greatly missed. You and Nancy have given me a lot to think about, and I see you both as mentors in my new life of wife and step-mother. May you be at peace in the arms of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  2. For Nancy and Walt- Thank you for your marriage in which that you both have lived LOVE and COMMITMENT throughout your marriage and even though we who do not know you personally, we can see that impact of your love for each other in your own family as well as to others around you (like Michelle & Tony for whom we are grateful for bringing us golden nuggets of faith and love in marriage like yours). We grieve your loss, Nancy and family and pray for you in the coming days that you will feel comfort and peace from the Lord and remember that the love you had with your dear Walt glorified the Lord and the He will bless you in the coming days until you reach Walt again in eternity.

  3. What an amazing and inspiring couple. I’m so sorry for your loss. My prayers are with all of you.
    I hope someday my marriage is that strong and inspire someone else to #staymarried

  4. Oh, Nancy, I am so sorry for your loss. Walt was a wonderful man, and I’m so glad we had the opportunity to know him. I will be praying for the Lord’s comfort over you and your family. RIP Walt.

  5. Our deepest condolences! It was an honour to have had the chance to read Nancy and Walt’s story, and to have been given the chance to meet them, however fleetingly. Walt will always be with you so long as you remember him. We wish Nancy strength for the days ahead, and some comfort in that he no longer suffers where he now.

  6. Nancy ready this story brought tears to my eyes as I wouldn’t know what to do if I lost Bill. My heart goes out to you. We’ve known each other forever it seems and please know I am always here if you need to talk or just a shoulder to cry on. Lots of hugs and prayers to you and your family
    Vicki and Bill

  7. Although it’s been a long time since I have had a close relationship with Walt and Nancy, it is very often that I think if them and the love that I felt as part if their family. The loss is greatest for his family, but he will always be remembered for who he was and who he was with everyone that ever had the privledge to know him and Nancy. They were, are, and always will be role models for my own relationships. I miss you all.

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