According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, love is the strong affection for another arising out of personal ties; affection based on admiration or common interests. Love is also defined as a warm attachment or assurance of affection. Love is the style songs are made and stories are written. When I Googled “songs with love in the title,” the search yielded 1,007,000 results. There have been Shakespearean plays and cinematic classics whose major theme revolves around this elusive concept and four letter word known to the world as love.
Love is jumping into my father’s arms as he picks me up from preschool early and unexpectedly, then holding his hand as I proudly march past my fellow classmates returning from afternoon recess wearing a smile that declares like a bullhorn, “See, my dad loves me!” Love is riding in his beat-up pickup truck, a 1976 yellow Ford Courier, and feeling as if we were inside a Corvette as we pulled up to my most favorite ice cream place. Love is a quick wink across the dinner table and magic tricks that involved peanut M&M’s and quarters, sometimes simultaneously. Love is a man working a job, one he doesn’t necessarily enjoy, but as a kid, I thought my dad was the hardest worker and the smartest man I ever knew.
Love is being six years old and having my mother wake me for school singing “You are My Sunshine” and smelling like a wonderful concoction of gardenias in bloom and freshly brewed coffee. Love is the way she placed my needs above her own and never complained. Love is my tiny kisses, proof of my daily goodbyes on the passenger side of her Toyota Corolla. Love is my mother’s choice to spend most Saturdays, in the children’s literature section of the county library, only to have me grab the same titles from the shelves again and again. Love is the warmth I felt in her mere presence. No doubt my mother was the prettiest woman in the room – and often the brightest. Love is a beautiful and bright woman foregoing her dream of higher education so my sister could have musical instruments and I could have the coolest Trapper Keeper and the sneakers I wanted. Love is the tremendous and overwhelming urge I have, no matter the passage of time, to keep her memory with me, and to honor that memory with the life I’ve been given – a life fully lived. Love is the melancholy I feel, not for myself, but for my beautiful mother, and all the milestones she’s missed.
Love is an older sister who stayed with me until I fell asleep most nights, taught me the tricks of a nicely shaped brow, and threw me the best sweet sixteen party in three counties, complete with a band. Love is a sister who nagged me for not living up to my potential, because she saw my potential. Disapproval of my romantic interests was really an act of love disguised as frustration because my sibling, my second mother, saw my worth even when I could not, and loved me even though I couldn’t find the strength to love myself.
Love is grandparents who forgo the long awaited golden years so I could have a place to call home. Love resembles a grandfather who cooked breakfast for me every morning and who made sure I got up for school on time. Love is a man with an elementary school education always having a book in his hand, switching the television off and suggesting I use the brain God gave me. If love were personified, he’d come around wearing worn jeans and flannel shirts, reading glasses in hand and on the hunt for the latest issue of Reader’s Digest. Love is my grandmother showing me the genius that is Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. Love is my Mamaw Roberts, as all the grandkids affectionately called her, advising me to “straighten up and fly right” as the Andrews Sisters crooned from the stereo on a Saturday morning. Love is demonstrating a sense of humor and the ability to lighten up when life got too heavy. Love is Mamaw Roberts demanding I go to church every Sunday, even when I begged not to go, because she knew I was worth the trouble.
My Husband, my Love
Love is my husband working three jobs just so I could earn a degree. Love is getting in my car and realizing I have a full tank of gas, when I didn’t the night before. Love takes out the trash and tolerates my trash talk. Love listens to my stories again and again. Love drags me from my pillow when depression has worn out its welcome. Love accentuates my attributes and minimizes my many flaws. Love is allowing ice cold feet on my husband’s warm back as we fall asleep after a long day.
Love is hearing my children’s heartbeats for the first time and strange kicks from the inside. Love is not knowing what in the world to name these awesome pink balls of screaming flesh but as soon as the newborn had been laid in my arms, it’s as if I’d known this child all the while. Love is sleepless nights trying to soothe an ear infection, and giggles from exhaustion. Love grows as my children grow. Love means being a mom has far more good days than not.
Love comes in many packages. Love is a former student who calls my name from across the way to say hello. Love is in my classroom and a home demolished when my grandmother died. Even though the structure was too frail to remain standing, the love given there still remains. Love is seeing the beauty beyond the wrinkles, and faith amid the doubt. Love can be seen in the face of my first grade teacher and the last time I saw an old friend. Love forgives and forgets, holds its tongue and says the words I may never get the chance to say again. I have known all these lovely things over the course of my lifetime, but none of these would have been possible without finding peace within, and God whispering in my ear, “For the greatest of these is love.”
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