My parents were an example that has been a challenge to follow. So many times, as one of their children, I witnessed love in action. Valentine’s Day was a lot of fun, mostly because of the little red and pink hearts we decorated to give to our classmates, to be honest. Mom and Dad never made a fuss over this particular day. If Mom received flowers it was likely to be wild flowers picked in a field. I do remember a few years when chocolates were part of the scene, however. One of my favourite memories is going for a ride in the car with Dad and my younger sister and brother. I think it was more likely to have been their anniversary than Valentine’s Day. It doesn’t matter which it was. I remember Dad buying nylons and a pretty china cup and saucer to give Mom. It was such a wonderful thing to be included in the surprise. She was so pleased when we got home and gave her these trinkets.
Yet, it wasn’t special occasions that helped us know that our parents truly loved one another. It was more the day to day examples such as Mom cooking Dad’s favourite foods. It was the tenderness in their eyes when they looked at one another. It was the forgiveness given after an argument or disagreement. It was the way they care for one another like Dad’s old black tin lunch pail, always ready when he was leaving for work and the kiss they shared just before he left. It was the pride they took in one another’s accomplishments. It was the trust they had for one another; the sacrifices they made for the other’s happiness; it was consideration of one another’s feelings, preferences, and such. Yes, they were an example of what marriage can be, should be, a commitment and caring that gave us children a strong foundation to grow on. No, they were not perfect, but they loved generously. Isn’t that what Valentine’s Day should be about?
He ain’t heavy – he’s my brother!
That song plays in my head a lot. It’s a tough week. I am keeping my siblings and especially Chris’s children close to my heart. I worry about them all and hope they are given all they need each and every day. It’s like an uphill battle against ferocious winds getting through these days of court dates and new testimony from witnesses – and I am not even there physically! I cannot imagine how tough this is for my teen-aged niece. I love her so much. I text with her every day to let her know I am thinking of her and her brother as they travel this arduous journey.
We cannot know the lessons we may learn from such an experience, but I hope that in the end it will enlighten us, inspire us, and make us all better people. Please. God, let it make us better and not bitter.
I remember watching the look of pure tenderness and love on my Uncle’s face as he gazed into my Aunt’s eyes and thinking, now this is love. And I remember another Uncle and Aunt when I went to visit her in her nursing home. She never forgot him, even as dementia took away so much – their love was like a beacon she clung to. I just wish I could have taken away the guilt my Uncle felt for having to place her in a home, but he just couldn’t look after her any longer. I hope he knows that not one member of their families ever held it against him. It broke my heart to see him so distraught. Years later I remember the same strong commitment they had for one another on display when we visited her in hospital mere hours before her death. Her eyes searched his and their unspoken bond was clear evidence of the lifetime of commitment they had built together. I remember their laughter as we all joked and remembered times gone by. Their strength and fortitude at such a time is a memory I treasure.
Several of my Aunts and Uncles have passed over into the afterlife, but the examples of love that I witnessed remain in my memory and in my heart. I have been looking at the wedding photographs posted this morning of my young cousin’s wedding. I cannot help thinking of her grandparents, and all our relatives who could not be there in body, but whom, I truly believe, were there in spirit. And I hope this young couple experiences the same sort of joys and bliss that marked her grandparents’ marriage, and those of so many others of the last generation. And I hope their love will carry them through the inevitable hurdles that life will throw onto their path. I hope that they will grow very old and happy together. And I thank the preceding generation for being such a wonderful example and lighting the way for us all.