We often say that we’d do anything for those we love, but how far as we really willing to go? When we say that “nothing will keep us apart” as we pledge our undying love, do we really mean it?
Luther Younger really, really means it. He walks six miles a day, every day, to visit his wife Waverlee at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York. He does so every single day without fail, in all weather conditions. And if you’re familiar with upstate New York winters, that is no easy feat.
Impressive, isn’t it? Well, it gets better.
The Youngers have been married for 55 years, and Mr. Younger is 99 YEARS OLD.
As someone who has been married for nearly 19 years, I truly love my husband & would be willing to go to great lengths for him in a time of need. But I’m also only 43; I say “only” because when I think about what lengths I’d be willing to walk for my husband FIFTY SIX YEARS from now, the mileage shrinks considerably.
But Luther’s story is a story about the power of love, as well as the will of the human spirit. And it’s beautifully moving.
Waverlee Younger was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor nine years ago, & has been in and out of the hospital for treatment numerous times. Each time she was admitted Luther would faithfully visit each day, refusing to be apart from his beloved wife.
He refers to his wife Waverlee as, “the sweetest cup of tea I’ve ever had”. In an interview with CBS News reporter Caitlin O’Kane, he describes the nature of their 55 year marital success as:
She’s a beautiful lady and she treats me as a person is supposed to be… she made a man out of me. That’s why I love her- because she’s tough. She’s not weak… That’s the kind of woman I want.
When Waverlee contracted pneumonia three weeks ago, Younger resumed his daily six mile trek. He credits both his Fort Worth, Texas upbringing and his service as a United States Marine for his ability to withstand the extreme summer heat & physical exertion of the walk.
And according to CBS News,
Sometimes Luther is so excited to see Waverlee that he runs a portion of the three miles.
Three miles is roughly the equivalent of a 5K race. I have yet to run a 5K race, because there would be less running & more crying. Luther, at 99 -NINETY NINE YEARS OLD, remember?- is still so excited to see his wife after all of these years that he’s not content to just walk the three miles there & back, but often runs to get to her even sooner.
THAT’S love. And that’s AWESOME.
Though the couple’s daughter, Lutheta, has often offered her father rides to the hospital (as have other neighbors that have observed his walks), he refuses to accept them. According to Lutheta, “My dad says the walks keeps him alive; it keeps him going.”
Luther Younger tearfully admitted that not having his wife home with him is painfully difficult. He opts to spend the day with Waverlee in any way that he can, tearfully admitting:
It’s a tough situation; without my wife, I ain’t nothing.
On the contrary; he’s really something!
While Younger’s walk itself is impressive, what is truly remarkable about his story is his utter devotion & dedication to his wife of 55 years. His efforts really exemplify the “in sickness and in health” aspect of his wedding vows, which is inspiring. Anyone who is married can relate; we all want to be cherished by our partners. We all want to ideally BE that kind of partner, too.
In a world that can be cynical about marriage & skeptical of lasting love, this tugs the heartstrings. And people have responded enthusiastically; nearly $57K has already been donated by the sympathetic public to an account established by the couple’s daughter to defray mounting medical costs.
Luther Younger’s story reminds us of the importance of sacrificing for our loved ones- not only going the extra mile for them, but the extra six miles if needed.