Love Stories May 2020
Throughout my life I have been privileged to see love acted out by so many couples. One of the characteristics that seems to exemplify true love is the complete surrender of oneself to the one admired. Done from both sides, this yields a freedom of action, and a commitment that truly works and for a long time. Marriage is one such commitment. Shacking up is an implied threat that “I can walk away from this any time I want if you don’t behave in the way I wish.” Marriage is an “I accept you for all that you are.” The wedding vows say, “to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge myself to you.”
When my father passed away in 1991 he left behind a room filled with all the interesting things from his Marine Corps career. The office had USMC red flock wallpaper walls over wood half walls. For four years the door was shut. I was tasked with preparing the house for rental when Mom moved out. I discovered something and had her come over to the house, cover her eyes, and sit in the room. When she took her hands down she was staring at what Dad had done under all that wall covering when he decorated the space 25 years earlier. There was a giant red heart and in the middle was carefully printed in 12 inch high letters, “I Will Always Love You.”
I became involved in the lives of Harold (93) and Dolores (92) when I sold the home they had lived in for over forty years, then helped them move to assisted living. Dolores took a fall and was in a separate rehab facility. Harold asked me to drive him to see her and I left them in her room with Harold holding her hand in both of his at bedside. When I came back two hours later he had not moved an inch and was still holding on. Married sixty years.
Polling women for one of my books, I asked Anne Meara, “What was the most romantic thing Jerry ever did for you?” She said, “One night we were on the road, on tour in Chicago. There was a huge storm and I was really sick with the flu. Jerry went out in the rain and bought my cigarettes.” Married sixty years.
Another told me her man, “had always wanted to ride his Harley across the width of the United States. He asked me to go with him, to share his big adventure. It was the greatest journey of our lives, but I loved him more because he included me in his dream.” (Note, they were in a horrible crash in Kansas and spent a month in the hospital. She still considered this one of the high points of their long marriage.)
Jacquie and Obie were a married U.S. Navy couple who were both serving. I deployed with Obie and when our ship arrived in Pearl Harbor from Long Beach there was Jacquie standing on the dock after a military hop got her there. Two weeks later we sailed into Guam and there she was again. We finally ported at our duty station in Olongapo, Phillipines and there was Jacquie. She wanted her man to know that she was willing to go around the world to tell him she loved him. Married forty years.