February was the love month, but what is true love? What is true, undeniable, unquestionable, forever love? We know Jesus loves us enough that he laid down his life for our sins, but let me tell you another true love story. A love rooted in God’s purpose for matrimony.
Carey Owen Pickard Jr. married Beverly Bowden in 1991. For both it was their second marriage. Carey and Beverly were both very accomplished — he a pilot at a young age and later a naval navigator and, while his two children, Carey III and Lizzie were growing up, though running a business, he never missed a ballgame or a play or any of their other activities. He knew what was important. Beverly, a gifted artist, poet and trained marriage and family therapist was on the medical school faculty at Mercer University and had three children of her own, Anne Isaac, Bowden and Ginna.
The past accomplishments were just facets of their lives, but the children — and what they passed on to them — were part of the fabric of a deep foundation each had borne from spiritual roots. Carey and Beverly retired from the hustle and bustle of everyday work life and moved to Saluda, North Carolina where Beverly continued her work as an artist. Carey would rebuild a home there — with an engineer’s precision — that included an art studio for Beverly. Later, they would open a gallery in town, “Saluda Fine Arts,” where Beverly and other regional artists displayed their work.
But with age come challenges — unexpected challenges. Beverly’s health began to mysteriously decline. First her equilibrium started to disappear. They sought help everywhere — even Duke University’s famed medical center. Finally, the diagnosis was early onset dementia.
Many people confuse dementia with Alzheimer’s disease. While Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia, there are several different types and Alzheimer’s is but one type. Some forms of dementia can even be reversed. What is necessary to deal with dementia in all of its forms is care, love and skilled medical practitioners.
With that in mind, Carey and Beverly sold their Saluda home and moved back to Macon where Carey became Beverly’s prime caregiver. He doted on her every need as her memory continued to fade. Then he received a diagnosis of prostate cancer and underwent outpatient treatment that would allow him to remain Beverly’s caregiver in between treatments.
Unfortunately, last year he received news that the treatments didn’t work. His main concern wasn’t his own demise but who would care for Beverly if he weren’t around? That’s when God stepped in.
Carey had been a member of a Palaver Club (a discussion group that meets monthly) for over 50 years. Even when he lived in Saluda, he would come back to Macon for the meetings. His last meeting, arranged by his son, also a member, was held in his home, last October.
Very soon after that October affair, both Beverly and Carey occupied side-by-side hospital beds in their Macon home, holding hands, until on Christmas Eve, Carey left to join his Lord. Beverly would follow him one week later on New Year’s Eve. Carey was 81. Beverly was 80.
Now they walk with the Lord in a place where there is no pain or sorrow, no dementia and no cancer. It’s a place where their kind of deep love will fit right in — forever.
Written by Charles E. Richardson