Wednesday, February 14, 2018

What Love Looks Like

It starts with Love with a capital L, hugs, kisses, hearts aflutter, can't get him (or her) of the mind, romance.  Young love, the kind of love one thinks will last forever.  I know that happened with my parents because I can see it in their eyes in photographs.

That love lasts for a few months -- or years, if a couple is lucky.  The romance dwindles and then love begins to become a steady sureness.  Happy moments and sparks of romance may continue.

Then there are three children and he and she are both tired nearly all the time.  He works turns at a steel mill, sometimes 12 hours a day, five or six days a week.  She soldiers on alone at home, keeping the home in order, the children clean and fed.  Both fall into bed exhausted.  You can see the exhaustion in their eyes.  Does love still exist?

By the time I was old enough to have an idea what love was I was certain my parents were not in love.  I didn't see them hug or kiss.  I didn't see them have conversations.  And I was fairly certain that they didn't even love each other. 

What a child knows about love comes from movies, books, and the imagination.  What married couples know about love comes from a lifetime of living together and caring for each other.  Quiet acts of selfless service, choosing forgiveness instead of offense, seeing the best in the other while ignoring (or trying to ignore) the worst, working together toward mutual goals, choosing unity over self.  One doesn't know how much work a marriage takes until married.

As an adult I know the things I saw as a child were evidence of my parents' love for each other.
  • Dad working at a hard and tiring job in a steel mill plus several other jobs to provide for his family.
  • Mom working to keep a clean and organized home and neat, tidy, well-behaved children.
  • Dad and Mom working together to live within a budget and also set aside a little for savings.
  • Dad making repairs and improvements at home, making sure everything worked.
  • Mom planning and preparing healthy and nutritious meals, packing lunches for Dad.
  • Dad always opening the car door for Mom.
  • Mom washing and carefully folding Dad's clothes and putting them away.
  • Mom and Dad both spoke quietly to each other, as far as I remember.
  • They worked together on home improvement projects without quarreling.

My parents had been married nearly 49 years when my father died.  My mother was disconsolate and, I think, felt desolate.  My father had taken care of her in many ways, while she took care of him in other ways.  Both his care for her was gone and her ability to care for him was unneeded.  I think she mourned the rest of her life.

What does love look like?  It has so many faces, from the hearts-aflutter times, through the exhaustion and the challenges of raising and providing for a family, all the way to quiet knowledge of loving and being loved by one's spouse.  I saw what love looks like with my parents.  I just didn't realize it till I was an adult.

The day's almost over but I'd like to wish you a Happy Valentine's Day.

I'm sharing this post as part of Amy Johnson Crow's 2019 version of 52 Ancestors.  The post topic for the week was "Love."

And I'm linking this post to The Genealogy Blog Party Stories of Love at My Descendant's Ancestors.  Thanks for hosting, Elizabeth.


Copyright ©2018-2019, Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.


  1. What a fantastic tribute to your parents and your words are so true.

    1. Thank you, Linda. Thanks, too, for including this in your weekly list of posts.

  2. What a beautiful post! It made me tear up while reading, very moving!

  3. Thanks for this reminder that love comes in different ways and is expressed differently by each partner. You are so blessed to have seen this example right before your eyes.

    1. Thank you, Robin. I saw the example but it took me years to realize it was love I was seeing.

  4. Nancy, thanks for sharing such a personal and loving story. Love is certainly more than movies show us. It is 'what happens next' after the credits roll at the end of a movie that counts. Raising children and supporting each other might not be fireworks & rainbows but it is true love.

    1. You're welcome, Colleen. And thank you for your kind comments.

  5. I was moved by your tribute to the love your parents shared.

  6. A timely reminder. I think it is easy not to see "love" as we get older we begin to appreciate it is so much more than we can see. I supppose wisdom comes with age.

    1. Thank you, Sandra. I agree that we sometimes don't see love but only recognize it later.

  7. Nancy - just wanted to let you know that I am highlighting this post on my twitter and FaceBook feeds on March 4, 2018. Such a touching story


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