Thursday 9 February 2012

What Is Love Anyway?

In a day and age of escalating divorce and and fear of commitment, it is easy to be confused about the meaning of the word love.  We use the word lightly and substitute it for like, enjoy or appreciate.  We make marriage vows that promise to be true to each other, "as long as we both shall love", and may not even be sure what that ambiguous phrase means.

My parents never seemed to question what love was.  In good times or bad, happy times or sad, richer or poorer, young or old, they loved each other.  All six of their children knew that.  It was our example of what a lifelong commitment to someone meant.  For some of us love was elusive, but we still knew what it should be.

Let me tell you a little Valentine's Day story.

Mom was 19 and Dad 21 on their wedding day, February 15th. ~

When their first child was on the way, Dad sold his car to buy a washing machine and walked to work.  With five kids to support, Mom went back to work as a telephone operator so Dad could go to teacher's college and become an educator.  His first position was as principal of a two room school in Northern Ontario because that is were Mom wanted to live.  That's how it went - back and forth, back and forth so each could live the lives they wanted.

As seniors, they operated the antique store/ice cream parlour across the street from my home.  Their lifestyle was simple and revolved around friends and family and their pets. Then, Dad was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and deemed untreatable.  He was not expected to live long.  But, there were ten years left to run on the mortgage and Mom would not be able to keep up the payments without his full pension.

I am convinced it was love that caused Dad to keep going into remission each time they said he was terminal  and allowed him to survive for thirteen years.  

Dad spent most of the last six months of his life in a hospital bed in the living room.  Mom was sinking into Alzheimer's and all six of their children were taking turns staying with them and helping to ease the days.  On February 14th, I came home from work and headed across the street to stay with my folks while the married siblings celebrated the day.  No one was home!  No Dad in a hospital bed and no Mom sitting at the kitchen table reading the same page of a book over and over again.

So, I waited and, in good time, their car pulled in and the two of them came into the house full of smiles.  Dad had taken Mom to a restaurant a couple of miles away for a combined 57th Anniversary and Valentine's Day dinner.  This is a small community and everyone at the restaurant made a big fuss over them.

I asked myself how this could possibly have happened and the answer is found in the words of Lao Tzu. 

"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage."  

The next day, the owner of the restaurant showed up at their house with a big teddy bear and said they were the winners of the draw.  Mom was so pleased that I didn't ask any questions. 

Dad passed away at Easter and that teddy stayed on Mom's bed for the rest of her life.  When we packed up Mom's things, I picked up Teddy and brought him home with me.

Teddy is a little beat up from my grandchildren playing with him and that is exactly the way my parents would want it. 

They would also want Teddy to remind us that, "True love stories never have endings".

Have a truly lovely day!



  1. What a beautiful love story! Thank you for sharing.

    Sharon @ mrs. hines class

  2. Beautiful post Maureen. Brings tears to my eyes. What a great memory for you. My Mom and Dad lived through some really rough times, but they never gave up on each other ... that was true love.
    Audrey Z @ Timeless Treasures.

  3. What a wonderful story! Warms my heart and gives me goosebumps. thanks so much for sharing :-)
    ps: your mom looks gorgeous!

  4. That's a beautiful Valentines story Maureen. I love that you shared it with us...I had the beginnings of tears in my eyes. Sweet. xo

  5. That is just lovely! How special for you to grow up in a house full of that much love! XO Cindy

  6. What a wonderful story, wonderfully written, it is so nice to know that your mom and dad has so much love and respect for each other and it is even more wonderful that your were raised in that environment. Love has so much power and can do so many incredible things. Love it.

  7. They sure don't...what a love tribute to love.

  8. There aren't many relationships like those from the older days, great story!

  9. Thanks for the compliment on my mom, Jutta. Dad always said she was 98 lbs., soaking wet, when he married her.

  10. From the above comments Maureen, you already know it is a wonderful story. It is (without editing) worthy of publication in a magazine. I would highly recommend you submit some of your writing for publication as it is absolutely beautiful, it flows so naturally it is obviously a gift from God. Have a wonderful Valentine sharing love with your family. Marilyn Gilmore

  11. What a wonderful story of love. They sound like they were wonderful people and wonderful parents.

  12. A truly touching love story. May we all aspire to love and be loved as they.

  13. This was a beautiful and amazing love story. I thank you so much for sharing this with us. I will be married 28 years this May 2012. My folks would have celebrated 50 years when my dad passed away in 1985. We lost my mom in 2001. I never saw a love story like theirs. They complemented each other so beautifully. Thank you again and Happy Valentines Day to you! That precious bear is such a beautiful tribute to your folks. Hugs Anne

  14. Lynn @ February 2012 at 12:36

    I told you I would cry. Thanks for the memories. I was so lucky to have that standard to set my life by.

  15. Oh Maureen - what an absolutely beautiful story you shared. It's an incredible testimony of love of your parents AND of you and your siblings. I do think that that's what we'll always remember after our parents pass....the love of family, love of God, and the special times shared.

    I also wanted to thank you for your comforting words about the journey I'm on with my own mother. They were deeply appreciated and treasured. Thank you, sweetie.

    xoxo laurie

  16. A truly awesome love story! Brought tears to my eyes.

  17. My dad had very skinny legs and rarely wore shorts. My daughter, Katie, says this story reminds her of a time when he did and my mom said, "Hubba, hubba, zing, zing, look at the legs on that thing!". That breaks my girls up to this day!

  18. This is the sweetest love story. I'm so happy that you shared it!

  19. What a touching story and a compelling read. I love family history and the old photo of them on their wedding day is so special.

  20. "In dreams and in love there are no impossibilities." - Janos Arany. Maureen, what a lovely and touching story. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  21. Loved this story, thanks so much for sharing.

  22. Thank you for sharing such a true and great story of love. The greatest love that I have found in my lifetime is the love of God (after all, He allowed His Only Son to die that I might live). It is the people that reflect God's love to me who teach me the true meaning of love.

  23. Oh wow... what a truly inspiring Love your parents shared...

    This is absolutely beautiful...

    Thank you for sharing such a thoughtful post for the Letter "L"!

    Great job.


  24. What a gorgeous story. I love it that he kept on living just to be there for your mom, and she obviously did the same for him. True love = a dedication hope I can carry on in my own life. Thank you for sharing with us.