A Trilogy of Love
He saw her platinum blonde hair from across the bar and knew he had to meet her. When he did, his heart melted. She had deep set green eyes and a shy, demure way that stole his heart that night in 1946. He had the bad boy look she loved with dark hair, olive skin, and deep chocolate eyes that stared right into hers. He had just returned from the war, which was appealing as well. But she was good at playing the field and playing a bit of “hard to get.” And she did with him , letting him know that she was seeing others. The following week, she came home to the boarding house in Asbury Park where she and her sister were spending summer weekends and he was sitting on the porch waiting for her.
Their love has spanned 7 decades and endured the best and worst of life. Together they have built a family with children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They have been through the beauty of life and the horrors of life. They have done that together. They have independent lives that depend on each other, they have a love that has never waivered.
The most beautiful sign of this undeniable love has been the secret. It was both a terribly kept and well- kept secret. Their immediate family didn’t know but her extended family did, yet they never told. Her secret was never supposed to be out especially to her husband, her love. However, we learned, he knew. He knew her secret for over 20 years and never told her he knew. When I asked him why, he said it didn’t matter to him and why would he hurt her. To me, that was the true testament of love, the love we all strive for but rarely find. A love that does endure 7 decades and stands up to the ugly side of life. A love that now means that he does everything in the house and cares for her since she struggles to care for herself. It is an enduring beautiful love that we rarely have in this life. One that I am proud to have witnessed for over a half century and continue to be in awe of. They are tremendous role models.
Forty years have passed since they said “I do.” They were married less than two years after they began to date. I, at 15 years of age, knew that this was different and had never seen him this happy. Their life together created 4 children and again was tested through the best of life and the difficult of life. But their love was one that stood the test of time, at least the time they were given. I had the honor of seeing their love up close and personal each year for a few days at the Jersey shore. I would join their family vacation and spend time with them. I would hear his nicknames for her and watch them laugh away at silliness. I would see the rhythm they moved to and how easy a relationship it was. The family they built was built from love. Their loves goes on in their children and grandchild. Their love goes on in the way she honors him with him gone. Their love was one for the ages. It continues to this day, differently without him physically present, but the love continues strongly.
A new love. Although 10 years in the making and have already withstood events such as moving across the country or a horrific car crash. But it is a new love. They are embarking on their commitment together. There was much love all around them. The venue, appropriately a vineyard that looked like it was plucked from the French countryside. The love that surrounded them during the actual wedding was palpable. Friendships that have been growing for many years, growing together with all of this love. The ceremony performed by a family member with handwritten vows. Personal and loving, it showed both of their personalities and the love between them. A new love built on years of friendship, years of trust and years of learning about each other.
Whether they be new loves, 40 year loves or 70 years of love, these three stories have one thing in common. They are filled with authentic love. Loving people for who they are not who they want them to be. Understanding that love means compromise, it means not doing or saying something so we don’t hurt someone unnecessarily. Love is about hanging together through good and bad, through the best in life and the worst in life.
I am blessed to have witnessed all of these and many more. To see people who truly love each other, and understand each other, and accept each other, has been a lesson in itself to me.