“You make me want to be a better man.”
Those were the words that Jack Nicholson said to Helen Hunt in the spectacular film As Good As It Gets. She responded by telling him that it might have been the best compliment she’d ever received. I didn’t fully understand what he meant until recently.
That statement pretty much sums up how I feel about my partner. I came to the conclusion this weekend that he’s a better person that I am, as I watched his heart break over the situation with our neighbor. He’s been through this type of thing before when he weathered the loss of his grandmother several years ago, yet he never stopped allowing himself to love. Even though he knows the pain that we have to endure when someone we love is separated from us by death or circumstances, he never once tried to protect himself from it.
I’ve watched him interact with her on many occasions, feeling my heart nearly burst with pride as he embodied patience and compassion. He would sit with her for hours on end as she recounted stories from her long life, not only listening, but remembering the details to tell me later.
After visiting with her at the hospital Friday evening, we discovered that no one from her family was going to spend the night with her. This would have been her first night alone, and we knew that she was feeling rather fragile mentally and physically. Her own son didn’t think it was necessary for anyone to stay and since I had to work the next morning, I didn’t volunteer.
As we left the hospital, Honey informed me that he wanted to stay with her. We went to get some dinner before returning to the hospital to give her the news. Her face lit up as he told her that she wouldn’t have to stay alone and she admitted that she really didn’t want to.
As I drove home it suddenly occurred to me that he is a much better person than I am. Where I had resisted doing what needed to be done, he had volunteered. While he doesn’t consider himself a very religious person, he had exhibited very Christ-like behavior.
So, it is with great pride and love that I say to my partner, “You make me want to be a better man.”