Love?What is it?

wealthymattersLove is not any one thing. It means different things to different people. People show love in different ways and people perceive love in different ways. Generally people perceive love easily when it is show in some way they interpret as love and this way is generally the way the person themselves shows love.

When similar types of people get together, love flows smoothly. The challenge is when different types of people are together. Then it takes work. It helps a bit, if people are self aware and have verbal skills to explain what they feel and why and how they are responding. But unfortunately this does not work with people with poor self awareness and verbal skills. They are of the school that love just ought to be, should not be defined, can’t be explained or indeed the very act of defining it, kills it. To them love is spontaneous and love is not a conscious decision. Some even see commitment as an end to love, not the beginning.

The greatest act of love is probably getting to know how other people define love and showing them love in the way they understand it, but its debatable whether anybody can act so contrary to their natural style on an ongoing basis.

Below is a sad story, featuring two different types of people. The story is penned by one of the children of this marriage:

My mother passionately loved my father but she would do things that would wound him and not know how deeply she hurt him on an ongoing basis.Example: When I was 10 years old, my father excitedly told me about a special wrist watch he was planning to buy for my mother’s birthday. He described the 14k gold small face, the intricate script numbers, the delicate wristband made in gold designed for a queen.

We were poor then, it took him 3 months to pay for the watch on a lay away plan. He told me how my mom would love the watch and know how much he loved her. I  hoped to marry someone just like my dad who loves so romantically.

On the day of mom’s birthday, my father excitedly gave her the watch wrapped in silver foil printed with pink and red roses. He had paid the jeweller extra for that special wrapping paper. I know because he told me.

My mother didn’t notice the special wrapping paper. When she opened the box, she said, (I remember in great detail) “Oh! such an old lady looking watch! Oh! No! No! Return it!” and shoved the watch back to him.

He didn’t say anything.

I went into the bathroom, locked the door and cried.

Through the years, he stopped singing to her. He stopped putting his arms around her waist. Then, he stopped coming home some nights. He disappeared on weekends. She didn’t know where he went. When he came home, she served him coffee, was extremely sweet to him, and never questioned where he went. I didn’t understand this, still don’t.

Then mom opened a restaurant and was no longer financially dependent on him. She became the provider. The shipyard where dad worked closed and he became unemployed at that time.

When I was 15, he woke me up at 3 am, asked me to come down to the kitchen where he peeled an orange as he told me he was leaving the family for Carol and wanted me to come with him, leaving my two brothers and two sisters behind.

The next day, he took me to meet Carol. She said she was in love with dad and asked me to understand and accept her. She said, “I want you to come and live with us.” I felt so stupid! I didn’t know what to say!

They were a match – a great match. She had grace and empathy. And beauty. I understood why he would leave the family to be with her. I understood why he would leave mom, I couldn’t stand mom’s attacks on me either. But I did everything I could do to be of help to mom because she was supporting the family.

Two days later, I skipped high school classes and went to see Carol. I told her that my brothers and sisters needed my dad at home. She couldn’t have him. I wouldn’t go with him to live with her. She had to stop seeing him and I was going to tell my mom about her if she kept seeing my dad. I screamed at her. Words came out of my mouth, and it wasn’t me saying them.

I didn’t tell dad I went to see her.

It was as if Carol didn’t happen, as if I never met her, nothing more was said, nothing. I don’t know what happened between them.

He didn’t leave us.

But he started to drink.

My visit to Carol broke my father’s trust in me and he never confided in me about anything ever again. Once so close, he and I became strangers.

No, that is not accurate. My dad became a stranger to the whole family. He just came home to sleep, always drunk.

But oddly, the bond between my father and I was so strong that it remained intact. This bond is really hard to describe. What was it? A mixture of deep understanding, acceptance of each other and love? I don’t know.

At 18, I left home, Honolulu, and came to California alone.

For decades I would receive letters and then calls from my family, the kids were growing up, going to college, and things with dad remained the same as the day I left.

My parents never got a divorce. My mother said she loved him and would never divorce him. What she got was the shell of a man.

Would you call that a marriage? My mother did.

Then 10 years ago, my older brother called me and said dad had a heart attack, he was in surgery and was not expected to survive. I flew home. My sisters said when my dad saw me in the ICU, it was as if he had new life running in his veins.Miraculously, he survived.

A year later he was diagnosed with stomach and liver cancer. For one whole year, he was in and out of the hospital.I remember when the nurses came to change his bed sheets and my dad screaming in pain while being turned over. My strong dad, my dad who could take pain, was screaming. I remember stepping into the hallway and saying to the empty hall, “Just take him, don’t let him suffer anymore.”

When the doctor said dad had a few weeks to live, I made the last trip to see him before he died.In that quiet hospital room – just the two of us, I leaned over my dad, he was so shrunken like a skeleton draped with shrivelled skin. I held his hands – there was that bond, as strong as ever.

“Dad, I’m so sorry about Carol.”

He nodded his head, smiled and said, “Don’t worry anymore. Forget it. You did the right thing. I love you.”

“Thank you, dad. I’ll see you in the future. I love you, dad.”

About Keerthika Singaravel

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