Friday, February 6, 2015

Favorite Things Friday: Real Love

Tis the season for valentines, chocolate, flowers, and all that jazz.  

 Chocolate Heart 1

As a high school English teacher, I always reserve Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet for this time of year, capitalizing on its themes of love and allusions to Cupid and the star-crossed lovers. After Act II, however, even my most jaded 9th grader recognizes that Romeo is immature and shallow, and that this play is really more of an illustration of lust running roughshod over reason. This seems like a good time of year to hammer home that message.

Even after eight years of marriage, my husband and I usually do something for each other for the hallmark holiday. We normally go out to dinner somewhere and/or buy a little gift for each other.  Overall, though, we try to do special things for one another all year long, not just on Valentine’s Day. My husband has taught me a lot about the meaning of true love as it exists between earthly people, and every day we practice respect and forgiveness for one another.

Along with my hubby, some of the greatest teachers of love I’ve ever had are my grandparents, both maternal and paternal. Both sets of grandparents were married when they were very young (my grandmothers were 16 and 17, respectively). Both couples weathered a lot of storms during the course of their marriages. My mother’s parents endured World War II and my grandfather going off to war; my father’s parents endured long absences from one another, too (my grandfather was a long-distance truck driver). Both grandmothers birthed four children (that, alone, is enough to test any marriage).

When my maternal grandfather got sick near the end of his life, my grandmother sat at his bedside every day in the nursing home, and even though he wasn’t aware of much most of the time, she talked to him constantly. One of the most poignant images I recall is my grandmother rubbing Vaseline into my grandfather’s feet, which were painfully dried-out and cracked. She fed him by hand if necessary, made sure everyone was on-task with his continual care, and maintained a hard, bright perkiness that lifted the spirits of every nurse and aid in the facility.

Just this Christmas, my paternal grandmother contracted pneumonia and suffered with the effects of some old heart issues. My 90 year-old grandfather was the one who called 911, and once they moved her to a hospital, he remained by her bedside all day every day. A picture speaks a thousand words, so these pictures replace my best attempt at written description for the true love that exists between this special couple. (She is now back at home and doing better every day!)

Sherry Whitson West's photo.

In this day and time of the dispensable Hollywood relationship, when the quest for romantic love overshadows the perseverance, diligence, and hard work of a lasting marriage, it seems that the world needs less Romeos (and Christian Greys) and more illustrations of sacrificial and long-suffering commitment. Love that endures beyond the gray hair, tests of life, and potential illnesses is the kind of love Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-6:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

 Even the often cynical and bawdy Shakespeare knew the difference, as expressed in his Sonnet 116:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

 It’s easy to discern the real thing when you see it.

Cross Variation

Happy Valentine’s Day!


  1. What a sweet picture of your grandparents. What a great testimony of both of your grandparents love with how devoted they were in times of sickness. That is the mark of love as not just a feeling and emotion but as a verb :) I love how the kids were able to pick up on Romeo being immature :)

    (don't want to be nit picky, but the scripture reference for Cornithians is 1 Corinthians 13 :)


  2. Beautiful post Megan. You're right about Hollywood. They have it all wrong yet they're the ones the younger generation turns to.

    1. Unfortunately that's so true. I see it every day when I'm with teenagers.

  3. Love is best illustrated by examples set by others. Beautiful story about your grandparents.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out