Romance goes beyond gift-wrapped chocolate, twelve long-stemmed roses, and candlelight dinners.
I say this because today I met an extraordinary husband at the car dealership. Hector drives the shuttle van, returning customers to their homes while their auto undergoes repair. As Hector drove me home I noticed a finger missing from his hand. I asked, "How did you lose your finger?" With his Puerto Rican accent he answered, "Oh, years ago I worked at the Schwinn factory in Chicago and I accidentally hit a button at my workstation that started the cutting blade. My finger was gone before I knew what happened."
As he continued to share, he started laughing when he told me about Willie, a fellow worker at the Schwinn factory, who stood 6 foot five and 250 pounds. “I turned to Willie, who worked next to me, and said ‘I cut off my finger.’ Willie didn't believe me. ‘Don’t joke with me man.’ So I hold up my hand. When Willie saw my missin’ finger, he fainted right on the spot. Kaboom. So I started yellin’, ‘Everybody come here. Willie needs help. Willie just fainted. Somebody help Willie!’ When people came running they asked, ‘Why did Willie faint?’I held up my hand with the missing finger. People couldn't believe it. Man, they started scrambling to get me to the hospital, especially because I was bleeding so badly. It was ugly."
Here's the extraordinary husband part.
Nonchalantly Hector said, "When I got to the hospital they wanted to give me shots to numb my finger and hand. But me and my wife were trying to have a kid, and having trouble. I didn't want no medication to stop us from having a kid. So I told the doctor, ‘No shots.’ He gave me 300 stitches without any painkiller. He was an older doctor and told me that he never had a patient like me in all his years of practice. But to me I had to do it. Me and my wife wanted a baby. So, I sat there and prayed for strength. ‘Dear God help me.’ God give me the strength.”
And God gave him more. Later they had a daughter.
Too often we miss the incredible sacrifices that husbands go through for their wives because there's no romance connected to it. Who gets sentimental feelings when hearing about a lost finger? Sadly, many unsung heroic acts happen out of sight of the candlelight dinner.
As far as I know, judging from Hector's character, he probably downplayed to his wife the sacrifice he made for her that day. Yet, here is a man who endured immeasurable suffering in order to give a gift to his wife of a precious baby.
But you will never see it on a Hallmark card. What should Hallmark do, take a picture of Hector’s hand with a missing finger? No way. Willie will faint, and the public will express repulsion at Hallmark for the crassness.
No sentimentality there. Hector needs to buy candy as a surprise.
Yet as I sat there, one man listening to another man, tears filled my eyes over the sweetness of this husband’s tender decision to experience torture for his wife and future child.
That's a Hallmark moment. But to see it, you gotta ask, “Hector, how did you lose your finger?” If you don't ask, the answer remains in the darkness beyond the flickering light of the candlelight dinner.