NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Thursday, February 13th. We’re so glad you’re along with us today for The WORLD and Everything in It. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next: a love story.
Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, and that means flower bouquets and candy boxes are flying off the store shelves about now. But as you know, the best expressions of love cannot be bought.
EICHER: Kim Henderson takes us now to meet a couple whose love is in the refining fire of serious illness. If the doctor’s prognosis is correct, tomorrow will be their final Valentine’s Day together. Here’s their story.
AUDIO: [SOUND OF MOTHER AND DAUGHTER IN KITCHEN]
KIM HENDERSON, REPORTER: A birthday lunch is wrapping up at the ranch-style house where Lyn and June Hutcherson raised their two daughters. Their oldest is turning 37.
LYN: Virginia’s been over here most of the morning, and we’ve had a real good day.
AUDIO: [SOUND OF MOTHER AND DAUGHTER SAYING GOOD-BYES]
Walking to her car in the driveway, Virginia describes her parent’s relationship as something she longs for.
VIRGINIA: It’s very much the kind of relationship that you don’t see anymore… Never once even blinked their eyes at the thought of being anywhere other than being with each other…
When terminal cancer became part of her parents’ love story, she observed something from the sidelines.
VIRGINIA: It’s brought them closer together even though they’re about to be further apart than they’ve ever been.
With their daughter on her way, Lyn and June go back to their recliners. And October 1975.
MUSIC: [JIVE TALKIN’ — THE BEE GEES]
Bill Gates was starting Microsoft, and the Bee Gees were topping the charts. That’s when Lyn and June met on a blind date.
LYN: I walked up on the front steps of her parents’ house and rang the doorbell, and this beautiful 16-year-old girl with clear blue eyes and a huge bright-blonde shag haircut opened the door. From that moment I knew that she was mine.
The spring after June graduated from high school, they stood in front of her pastor in that same house.
JUNE: I was 18 and a half the day we got married. He was 20.
They had car trouble on their way to their honeymoon in New Orleans.
JUNE: He jumped out and fixed it. I’m like, this might not be so bad. Maybe. Maybe he can keep us going.
The Hutcherson marriage has weathered a lot over 43 years. A child’s birth defect. Business loss. June’s debilitating arthritis.
In 2017, doctors removed a football-sized tumor from Lyn’s kidney. After multiple rounds of treatment, doctors recently told him he has three to six months to live.
LYN: The hard part is going to be for the people who have to watch me do this, but it’s in God’s hands and not mine.
JUNE: You see how it looks outside—glum? That’s how it is for me. I mean, I have faith, yes, but just, you know, I’m pretty empty feeling and pretty blue and gray and that’s how it is. Just, just knowing that there’s a void coming.
Anytime someone steps onto the five-acre Hutcherson property, their canine security system lets them know. That’s important because Lyn was a professional mechanic. He had a garage full of expensive tools and a retirement stash of hot rods waiting to be restored, including June’s favorite, an antique F-100 truck.
JUNE: With the special engine, with the hyper-eutectic pistons…
Lyn recently closed the doors of his shop and sold everything. It was one way he could prepare his wife for life without him.
LYN: When I’m gone, there will be an empty metal building out there. Unless they want the dirt off the floor, there is nothing else to get. So she has no concerns…
When he says that, he looks across the room at his wife. She shakes her head.
JUNE: Just again, how hurt he was to have to do that. It, it, it hurts. It hurts me to see him like that.
They mention another piece of finished business.
AUDIO: [SOUND OF PREACHER LEADING JUNE IN VOWS]
In December, the Hutchersons renewed their vows.
LYN: We realized that we’ll never see 50 years… it just gave me a chance to say one more time (weeping) what I meant. I was serious about it 43 years ago, and I’m serious about it now.
These days, the couple lingers long over their morning coffee, but life is changing. Hospice care started Monday. For Lyn, the loss of physical strength has been humbling.
LYN: June had to open a coke for me the other day…
But spiritually, he’s still growing. The longtime Gideons International speaker can’t wait to open his Bible when he wakes up.
LYN: I’ve read these verses a hundred times, but that means something new almost every day. And I’ve used my highlighter more in the last six weeks than I think that I have in the last 10 years.
Still, June sees how fatigued he’s becoming—how much he sleeps. She knows a chapter of their lives is ending, and she has a goal.
JUNE: …make sure that the book closes gently rather than slammed shut.
They smile a knowing smile at each other, almost like they have some sort of secret. Lyn makes a point to say again that he wouldn’t trade his years with June for anything in the world.
LYN: When I look at her right now, I don’t see much different than I do the teenage girl when I first married her. They’re both one and the same.
For WORLD Radio, I’m Kim Henderson reporting from Hazlehurst, Mississippi.