Saturday, March 02, 2013
Love Is Not Engagements, Weddings, Marriages or Babies
This is an interesting time for me. I’m in my 40s, right smack in the middle of life. I’m blessed with multi-generational family and friends – some are younger, some are older. And what I see is a vast kaleidoscope of life’s richness, perched up here on the cliff of mid-40’s.
Why am I thinking about this? Because I’m a caregiver now. I didn’t have children; I had parents.
My parent’s building got tented this week and I literally had to watch over them for 72 hours while they stayed in my apartment. I don’t know how mothers do it, running after toddlers and catering to all their needs.
My toddlers are in their 80s, forgetful, slow-moving (another source of frustration) and weigh 150 pounds.
But there was a lesson for me this week amid the challenges. It made me think of the true meaning of love. You see, I have family and friends who are caught up the blossoming of life – getting married, having babies, wrangling careers, buying homes and so on. And then I have my folks, who remind me of mortality, of nothing to look forward to but ultimate death.
I don’t mean to sound morbid, but actually dealing with the elderly who have dementia or Alzheimer’s issues makes me realize how precious our connections are. What is love, anyway? Is it all the fuss about engagements, weddings, marriages and babies?
Love is being married for over 50 years. Love is wiping the smelly ass of someone you care for. Love is sagging skin, frail bones, grey hair, wrinkles and dentures. Love is age spots. Love is doctor’s appointments. Love is a weak bladder. Love is pull-up adult diapers, on sale at CVS for $10. Love is brushing your mama’s hair, like the way she used to brush yours when you were a little girl. Love is aging and its bastardly toll on our bodies and brains. Love is an unfathomable amount of patience. Love is the brain eroding while the heart connection sticks stubbornly. Love is remembering that you are connected to someone deeply even when you can’t remember a damn thing or where you left your keys one minute ago. Love is all this, wrapped up in unconditional devotion.
Of course, most of the time, you don't get this kind of love without the engagements, weddings, marriages and babies.
None of which, by the way, I’ve had. But you know what? I have something that’s perhaps better: the commitment to dive into caregiving completely, because that is love too. It’s not pretty. It’s frustrating. It’s annoying. But it’s love.
And I have been blessed with a man – seven months now, a world record for me in recent years! – who has stuck by me as my caregiving role evolves.
When I least expected to find love myself, at the time that I would have otherwise thought it was inconvenient, there he was, beaming a smile at me. I never turned away.
This morning I was thinking about Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ novel, Love in the Time of Cholera. The two protagonists, lovebirds in youth, live separate lives until they reunite in old age. When I first read the novel, I thought the senior romance was incredibly awkward.
But I get it now.
Love itself never gets old.