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!