Illness plays a key role in the heart-tugging movie of 52 summers ago, Love Story, starring Ali McGraw and Ryan O’Neal; it also plays a role in the story of love overhead at a recent funeral.
As I talked with the widow left behind by the death of her husband of many decades, I witnessed an ongoing love story as a friend of the widow shared his condolences. He explained how he could not stay long and needed to return to his wife. “She doesn’t feel comfortable coming, and I don’t like to leave her for very long. She gets confused and scared; I want to be there for her so she doesn’t.” The widow nodded knowingly and they hugged as a pause during their conversation. The man’s comments did not include anything negative or disparaging about his wife.
The funeral was a beautiful tribute to the widow’s late husband. The eulogy, and images shown before and after the funeral, conveyed a story of love, dedication and spirit. Theirs was a story of love. The words of the other man, too, have continued to stir my heart; they are a love story in progress, through the illness of dementia.
The man’s words were sewn together with tenderness and compassion, the warp and woof of a love story that, based on the man’s age, I figure started prior to when the movie came out. At my age and in my profession, I am encountering more and more people dealing with dementia. The fabric of the man’s story is that of many people I meet. That fabric is love of strength, sacrifice, dedication and commitment. I am moved each time I encounter such stories.
There’s a lesson for all of us in every story of love that we witness, see or hear. There are unique attributes to each story and commonalities, too. That is why we are moved by movies such as Love Story. We need to allow ourselves the wisdom and emotions of love stories, whether on the big screen or in daily encounters, and learn to emulate what we learn by watching and listening to love in action.