Years ago I sat in my grandparent’s kitchen, my grandmother was washing dishes when my grandfather came into the room. He walked up behind her and gave her a hug “My little bride” he said lovingly, with a big grin on his face. I knew then and there that was what I wanted – a love that would last.
My grandparents didn’t have a perfect life, they had sickness and health, good times and very, very bad times. They had seen war, grief, betrayal, hope, love and everything in between. But they had each other for better or worse and they made it through. For over 50 years they lived together. It wouldn’t be more than a year after that little scene in the kitchen that my grandfather would pass away and my own marriage imploded and ended in divorce. That was almost 15 years ago. Today I am happily married to a great guy who loves me and who I love very much. We have been married for almost eight years. I can’t help but wish that my grandfather had lived to see it.
There was more to my grandparent’s relationship than just a warm romance. There was a deep commitment. The summer before my grandfather died he and I sat in his truck while he messed with the something while listening to the radio. There were a good number of people visiting and my grandmother has never been known as one who manages stress very well. “You are hiding” I accused him when I managed to slip away from the house to go find some place quiet.
“Yeah, but you know, that woman has given me a lot of fine years.” Grandpa and my conversations were most commonly like that. One of us would say almost nothing and the other would comment as though a whole paragraph had been spoken. Yes, he was hiding because grandma would start picking up little things to be upset over and she would find a laundry list of things that he had to do right away if she could see what he wasn’t doing. And it bothered him, and he hated to see it and it had been getting worse with time. Dementia was slowly setting in and brought out most fervently during stress. And he was worried about her and he was a man with a great deal of honor and deep sense of duty. He had made a vow for better or worse, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t escape to the truck for a little while now and again.
Love like that isn’t the fruit of some chemical attraction. It isn’t based on the other person being “the one” or “right for me” or “making me happy.” Love that lasts that long even through bad times is something that requires commitment and work and at many times a sense of selflessness. I was reading earlier today this homily From Deacon Greg over at the Anchoress.
I appreciate the take they both have about the importance of love, perseverance and constancy. Our devotion to love. I have read a good deal this year on life being looked at from a “utilitarian” view and how dehumanising and therefore dangerous it is.
There was a time in my life where I viewed life’s value as having a great deal to do with one’s intellectual capabilities. This changed as I aged and most profoundly changed as I came to terms with my own daughter’s disability. It becomes almost a cautionary tale. Any of us at any moment could fall victim to an accident or illness and be the one without the ability to contribute to society in a utilitarian sense.