Learning How to Love

brooksmain Paul and Kay Brooks, married 42 years, are a spunky couple in their early 60s: two married sons, three grandchildren, physically fit, lots of energy. Kay's contagious laugh and Paul's calm presence leave no one suspecting disease. But cancer and heart complications are not discriminating.

This fall, Paul had open-heart surgery and Kay began chemotherapy for chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Neither treatment was on their calendar this summer, but routine doctor visits quickly altered their plans. They understand how serious their situation is, but their response is secure trust: "God has this figured out and we don't need to lose sleep over it," Paul said. Neither would have said that early in their marriage.

Paul and Kay fell in love and decided to marry as students at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. Conflict ensued. Job opportunities moved them around the country—and away from each other.

"We were living separate lives from the same house," Paul said. Both ambitious, they developed a self-described "quid pro quo" marriage, as Paul recalled: "A lot of keeping score, a lot of 'I did this so you should do that' ... silly games." Kay added, "Hurtful games."

[Read the rest of the Brooks' story at WorldMag.com.]