By Mark E. Smith
The Hayes stop by my company once per year, either on their way to Maine in May, or on their way back to North Carolina in September. Snowbirds, they are.
I have no idea exactly how long they’ve been married, but I’d guess 45 years, based their age, as well as having three grown grandchildren. And, they’re madly in love – and it’s contagious to everyone around them.
And, so, it’s no surprise that when Mrs. Hayes was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis years ago, Mr. Hayes took an early retirement, and dedicated himself not just to his wife’s eventual full-time care, but also toward doing an astounding job of continuing with their dream retirement, going between North Carolina and Maine.
I’ve been in a unique position in that I’ve seen snapshots of Mrs. Hayes’ progression, yearly glimpses into her loss of function, to the point this September that she can only move her head a bit. Yet, what would seem like bittersweet annual visits are actually uplifting, a true lesson in life – and love.
See, despite the progression of multiple sclerosis, the Hayes simply seem happier every time I visit with them – projecting a contentment, zest, and love for life we should all be blessed with. And, it’s intrigued me to the point that I’ve striven to define what they intrinsically know that many others don’t, how they simply get happier the tougher life gets?
What I’ve determined is a profound truth: They continually inspire each other.
Think about how many couples we know with everything to be thankful for – health and wealth – but all they do is bicker and disrespect each other. There’s no admiration or inspiration seen in each other – just two unappreciative people, living a devalued life.
However, the Hayes are different. They know that the other is putting 100% into life, the marriage, and everyone around them – and are so inspired by each other that they each give more and more. The result is a cumulative effect, where it’s like inspiration squared, admiration compounded, love volleyed back and forth that just grows and grows and grows.
And, so there are two questions that the Hayes teach us to ask in our own relationships: Does our partner inspire us, and are we inspiring our partner?
If the answer is, yes, then we are doing everything right, living an ultimately-fulfilled life of truly reciprocating love – a love that just grows and grows and grows.
However, if we’re in a relationship where we’re not mutually inspired with our partners, then we need to make changes for the better – starting with ourselves, allowing ourselves to inspire and love fully.
Yet, the ultimate lesson that the Hayes teach us is that we don’t have a limited reservoir for inspiration and love. Rather, we have the unique capacity for boundless inspiration, where love doesn’t merely exist, but can constantly grow.