Stoddard County, MO couple proves love endures all things

(Source: Edward Hart)
(Source: Edward Hart)

PUXICO, MO (KFVS) - Edward and Linda Hart share a rare love.

"I spotted her and said, that's it...prettiest thing I ever seen sitting up there," said Ed Hart.

Smitten from day one, the couple tied the knot in 1969.

After their three children were born, Linda's health took a turn.

She noticed bumps forming on her body.

She immediately grew concerned, worried she may have the same genetic disorder that plagued her mother, neurofibromatosis.

It wasn't long and her fears became reality.

Non-cancerous tumors would eventually cover her body.

"There's been people who have said some harsh things," said Linda Hart.

The tumors are not only on the outside, but on the inside too.

The Hart's came to neurosurgeon, Dr. Joel Ray for help.

"One of these little tumors was in the water space of the brain," said Dr. Joel Ray. "She couldn't walk anymore, she couldn't think anymore. It causes a form of dementia and loss of function and at the same time she's being disfigured by the disease."

He performed a procedure to relieve the pressure on her brain.

It gave Linda her life back.

"There was a time she couldn't look at the clock and tell me the time, she can do that now," said Ed Hart.

"You walk in the room and it's not the same person, it's emotional," said Dr. Ray.

The wheelchair she once needed is now folded up, collecting dust.

She's walking and her memory is much better.

"[It's nice] for him [Ed] to be able to go outside and not worry about me," said Linda.

Ed said that's not entirely true as he still worries, but when he does go outside he focuses on his other love.

He spent his career building homes, while always dreaming of becoming a pastor.

With his wife's health concerns he decided to keep everything he loves on the same small piece of land.

He's building, with his own hands, a church in his backyard.

It's a 20-year dream that is slowly becoming a reality.

"I put up a frame and tore it down three times," said Ed Hart. "I thought this is stupid, I haven't got the finances, I'm not able."

But, he kept on.

"I just want a place where we can go a little ways and worship God," said Ed.

It makes things easier on Linda, and she is very grateful.

"Oh, I couldn't begin to tell you how proud I am of him," said Linda.

And, she's humbled by his love.

He's a man who doesn't see what strangers see.

"I didn't have any trouble knowing that was the one, look at those pictures over there, wasn't she a doll? She's still a doll to me," said Ed Hart. "This was love at first sight, and It's going to stay that way. I never wanted anyone, but her."

While their love continues to grow they focus on tomorrow, which for the Harts is pretty much unknown.

They're unsure of what will happen with the 528 square foot house of worship in the middle of the nowhere in Stoddard County, and whether Ed will find the money and energy to finish it.

Or, if he does whether people will come.

"I've always went by faith," said Linda Hart.

And that's what they'll continue to do as they build, and focus on what matters most to them.

"I can't imagine life without her," said Ed Hart.

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