As a physician, I have been with many patients who were close to death. But few of these experiences have touched my heart the way my experience with Cal and Lola Hamilton did.
At age sixty-two, Lola had been ill for years. Nearly blind from diabetes, she had severe arthritis and chronic heart and lung disease. She seemed weary, worn, and older than her years.
But her husband, Cal, did not think of Lola’s ill health as a burden. Cal was healthy and strong. He looked ten years younger than he was, and he still managed an active farming business. Yet in the two hears I had known them, his foremost concern was always his wife’s comfort and well-being.
Caring for Lola was practically a full-time nursing job. Yet Cal did most of it himself, always cheerfully and enthusiastically. Their children, all married now, also helped. The care Lola received at home was often better than she could get in a hospital.
In two years, Lola was hospitalized four times—each for a long period of time. Cal stayed with her constantly, sleeping in a chair at her side or on a little cot. He left long enough to eat a meal only if one of the children was there. Never through all those days did I hear a critical word about a nurse, a hospital worker, or anyone else. Instead, Cal praised and thanked us.
When Lola finally had a massive stroke, Cal was devastated. He never left her side. As she lay unconscious, Lola received a priesthood blessing, surprisingly promising that her full functional capacity would be restored. Because of that blessing we did everything we could to prolong her life.
The days passed and Lola remained unconscious. Cal never left the hospital, but day after day the strain and agony on his face increased and discouragement showed. He looked so thin and tired that I wondered if he had stopped eating. He caught only a few minutes of uninterrupted sleep her and there. Each time Lola’s noisy breathing caught or changed a little, he jumped up to check on her.
Such stress often brings out the worst in a person’s character. But Cal continued to be courteous. This gentle man showed dignity in his grief.
One Saturday after leaving Cal and Lola, I went back to the doctors’ lounge and slumped down on chair. Tears came to my eyes as I thought about Cal’s pain and grief.
Once again, I bowed my head to ask my Heavenly Father if there was something, as Lola’s doctor, that I could do to help. Was there something that I had left undone? I asked about Lola’s priesthood blessing. Why would anyone make such a statement? Was the priesthood holder truly inspired to say what he did?
At that moment, a thought came forcefully into my mind. The only way Lola could be restored to her full capacity was to move on to the next life. I had had this thought before, and I had even mentioned it to Cal. But this time it was accompanied by a feeling of great joy. In my mind, I could see Lola, sweet and attractive, with all her functions restored.
My grief was gone. I felt the unmistakable joy and peace that only the Holy Ghost can bring.
I left the doctors’ lounge with peace in my heart. A few hours later Lola died quietly and peacefully, and Cal finally went home.
I am grateful to Cal, who, by his example, taught me the meaning of love and sacrifice. I am also deeply grateful to the Lord for the miracle of personal revelation that turned a distressing, faith-shaking experience into a sweet, faith-building one.