When I think about my mother, I think about love, and when I think about love, I think about the real thing.
Love is unconditional or it’s not really love. Passions heat up and freeze to ice. Affections warm and cool. Personalities or bodies attract us one day and repulse us the next. But real love is a fixed mark. It is not swayed from one day to the next. It is not something that ends or stops or quits. It is not dissuaded by wrinkles or male-pattern baldness or 32 pounds or long-term illness or sin. It hangs in. It sticks out tough times. It does not use selfish “needs” as an exit sign. It gives and admires and shares and asks for little or nothing back.
Yes, there are practical matters. We can’t maintain for long relationships where one party is utterly conquered by addiction or crime or abuse. If there is a threat of continued physical violence or serious emotional harm, those things must end, even if by dissolution. But if those parties separate, even then the embers of true love sometimes continue to burn.
Love is selfless. It is more concerned about someone else than self. It spends less time looking in the mirror than looking after others. It is solicitous. It is focused outside of self and tends to suffer few neuroses. It is not full of expectations or demands. It waits. It watches from the sidelines. It’s patient. More than it seeks attention it seeks to meet the needs of others.
Love is sacrifice. It is more concerned with honoring promises than pursuing selfish impulses. It sets aside personal aspirations for the benefit of another human being. It stays up late and gets up early. It stays home when everyone else is going out. It is not jealous of the blessings and opportunities that come to others. This love both loudly and quietly rejoices at those blessings.
Love is endless. Real love never dies. It is not limited by time or space. It stops at no boundary but honors all of them. It is loyal. It does not shift with changes in others—though we may not always be able to express love due to the changes in others. It sees beyond the day to a better one.
That was my mother. She’s been gone now for over 30 years, but she’s never been gone from my heart. She loved with all she had though what she had was less than most moms. She had multiple sclerosis from when she was college age, but then only for intermittent visits. It showed up permanently when I was about five years old until she died twenty years later. She couldn’t look after our needs like most moms I knew, but she cared and gave what she had to give, and that was more than enough.
More than show her love she gave her love. It had more to do with who she was than what she could do. I am just now learning the difference.