Good friends of mine, though they may not realize it, are one of the most shining examples of love I have ever known. They are a pretty low-key couple. They are the type of people who stand back and observe, make assessments, and move forward from there, so it’s not always obvious how big their hearts are. But those of us who have been fortunate enough to know them for any length of time can attest to it.
Their daughters might tell you they’re strict. From an early age, the kids were expected to help out with household chores. Standards of behavior were set down that they didn’t always like. But I’m going to tell you something about those girls. They are independent. They have jobs. They go to school and make good grades. They have standards. They are kind and compassionate. They have great senses of humor. And they are steadfast and loyal friends. All of these things are qualities you can witness in their parents.
This is a couple who shows love in the simplest actions. She scratches his head absent-mindedly as they watch TV. He brings her a drink on the deck. Recently, she was very ill and needed to be hospitalized to recover. As she lay shivering in the chilly hospital bed, he gently moved the covers around her, and softly asked, “Do you need more blankets, sweetie?” And then he sat right down next to her where I’m fairly certain he had been for the previous 48 hours since she’d been admitted. And remember those daughters? They did just fine on their own at home while Mom recuperated. (She is just fine now, by the way.)
These two have been there for my family as well, through many good times and bad. My own kids consider them their “funcle” and “second mom” as they have been a stabilizing, consistent source of support for them during their childhood. They have shown my kids what it means to build a life together, respect that life, treat it with care, and reap the rewards of it. I know it hasn’t always been easy, but their decision to continue to choose each other and their family every single day throughout the years is something to respect and admire.
So when I started to think about an example of love, I thought of them, not only for their love of each other, but for their love of others too. I think of their standards and rules. I think of their humor. I think of the way they have prioritized and protected their marriage and, subsequently, their family. I think of the way they have been there for the people in their life even when it wasn’t easy or convenient, and how we all know we could call them at moment’s notice, and they would continue to be there.
That, for sure, is love.