Saturday, March 18, 2017
Once there an X-ray revealed that, at 75, she had broken her hip. A four-day visit to see the grandchildren perform in one of their shows soon stretched into several weeks as she needed first surgery to pin the broken hip together, and then therapy to rebuild her strength and endurance so that she could walk again.
The Wednesday after her accident, I arrived at the hospital a half-hour before visiting hours officially would end. My mother already had had the surgery, but earlier this day had developed an arrhythmia in which her resting heart rate unexpectedly had spiked and needed medication to slow it back down. When I arrived, she was in the intensive care unit with my father, who had stayed the entire day and only now was getting ready to leave for the night.
During that half-hour when we all were in the room together, I witnessed such tender expressions of affection between the two of them that I was left in awe. It was in the way she held his arm when he bent over by her bed, to pick up something off the floor. It was in the way he helped her to clean up after she had brushed her teeth. Those simple, unremarkable things were the poetry of love, born of more than 50 years together.
After my father had left, I lingered in the room for another hour, until hospital security finally told me that I had to leave. As we talked my mother shared how she first met my father on a blind date that a mutual friend had arranged, how my father had proposed after a courtship that involved sending letters to each of the hotels she and her parents were visiting on a European vacation, so that a letter always would be waiting for her when she arrived, and other details of their courtship.
I already knew all these stories, but I enjoyed hearing again. It was a privilege to bask in the glow with her for a while.
My parents' love for one another has been a given for my entire life, and for my brothers'. We don't even have to ask, we know that it's there, and that it's real. As I write this now, my parents are both 77 and my brothers and I once again are facing subtle reminders that our parents are mortal and one day will die.
But I'm certain of this: Their love never will.
Copyright © 2017 by David Learn. Used with permission.