What Keeps Us Living?

On August 11, Ruthie, 89,  and Harold “Doc” Knapke, 91, died within 11 hours of each other. The remarkable pair met in 3rd grade, lived out the last years of their lives sharing a room in a western Ohio nursing home, and continued their torrid love affair for just days before their 65th wedding anniversary.

When reporters asked Jeff Simon, 20, their grandson, what kept them alive to within 11 hour of each other, he said, “their faith in God.” Both were devout Roman Catholics.  “Obviously all of us grandkids loved them very much,” he said. “They were very good role models for us. It was very hard to see them go at the same time, but it was a good thing in the end to see the miracles God can do.” In their joint funeral mass, the granddaughters carried Ruth’s casket, while the grandsons carried Harold’s.

As their children discussed their lives, they noted how important was Ruth to Harold’s longevity. Even though her dad’s health and strength had been failing, “he couldn’t stop being her protector; it seemed he didn’t want to leave her behind,” said daughter Margaret Knapke in her eulogy.

Ruth developed a severe infection just days before she died. That prompted the children to warn their father. Aware of his beloved’s approaching death, “Doc” spent some sleepless nights, after which he developed a calm–and began to rapidly fail. “We believe he did that as final act of love for her. We believe he wanted to accompany her out of this life and into the next,” said daughter Carol Jean Romie, “and he did.”

What keeps us living? From Ruth and “Doc” Knapke, we say: A strong faith in God; a strong love for one another, shown in time spent together, and in a sense of need for one another. What keeps you living?

About Grose

Gordon Grose loves most to write, speak, and preach on the message of hope from the book of Job. Using drama, video, and PowerPoint, he has preached and presented this message of hope to churches around the country. Grose pastored three congregations 25 years, then served 12 years as a pastoral counselor in a Portland, Oregon counseling clinic. He now serves with Good Samaritan Counseling Services, Beaverton, OR. A graduate of Wheaton College (IL), Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Brandeis University, and Boston University, he comes from a rich and varied background in theological and counseling training. In 2015, Gordon published Tragedy Transformed: How Job's Recovery Can Provide Hope For Yours, a book about turning to Job for hope after tragedy. If you have experienced life challenges or personal tragedy, visit his Transforming Tragedy (gordongrose.com) blog to learn more. TragedyTransformed.com provides a sample of Gordon's speaking as well as an opportunity to purchase copies of his book.
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One Response to What Keeps Us Living?

  1. Patti Russell says:

    This story doesn’t resonate with me. I dare say, if Ruthie had died in a car accident at the age of 40, Harold would keep living. His body wouldn’t allow him to give up. If I was to look at my husband’s death and his relationships. I would venture to say that the distress of some relationships may have contributed to the end of his life. Things can happen in relationships to cause them to be life sucking? What keeps me alive? The belief that there is a God who loves me for who I am and He will always be with me to help me. He does bring people to help, but they are a gift like our “daily bread.” It is this knowledge that gives me hope and keeps me getting out of bed in the morning. (In addition to knowing about chocolate crossants. )

    Perhaps my perspective is that of an introvert, who was created to engage in the world of ideas more than with people. We are a minority, but none the less a purposeful part of God’s creation. I am so looking forward to moving from a modern culture. Post-moderns won’t want to make spiritual “truths” or formulas for life. There will be freedom to know God in the limits of one’s being and experience. Sure this is a lacking understanding of God, but does anyone truly know God?

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