Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Definition of Love

When I was a child, in my father's eyes, the sun rose and set on my head. The relationship was round and whole, always my hand inside his, always my chin turned up toward his, I knew he hung the bright moon. We spoke the language of unconditional love and understanding. The perception between us was at the deepest soulfelt level. He never once said no to me. He always asked if I was happy. Somehow my life was filled with deep take care for his happiness too.

At no moment in my life could I think a thought, say a word, or wish a dream, that would bring harm or hurt to him. It was beyond imagining to allow even the slightest sadness to cross those brown eyes that would so soften when my reflection was in them.

I knew every cell of him. He knew every cell of me. No hidden motives or baggage ever came between. No mistrust, no mistaken words, two hearts fully open in joy was the reality.

When I was 26, my mother, his wife, was dying. She was in an irreversible coma.

Like so many days, through my entire life, my father stretched back on top of his bed. I sat beside him my head his barrel chest. This time instead of him listening to me. I was listening to him. He spoke for less than 10 minutes. It was the only time he spoke of what might have been.

As the youngest child, the way my parents did things was the way that families worked. For as long as I knew, my folks were like early TV parents -- they didn't sleep together. My mom would fall asleep on the couch. She said she liked the couch behind her back. . . . besides he didn't get home from the saloon until 4 in the morning. Then he snored so loudly you could hear him two rooms away. My mom got up at 6 a.m..

That day when I was 26, my dad asked me a question about himself.

He said, quite simply, "Do you think I wanted to sleep alone all of these years?"

I was stunned to hear it, because my mind went Do I think? Do I think? Oh my god. Here is this person I know better than I know me and I never had this thought. How did I miss this chance to care about him?

Then he said what is the definition of love, "It made her happy."

This man, my father, the man that I knew so deeply, told me something about himself I never saw -- "perceptive, deep feeling. live my life to never hurt him" me-- I never saw it.

I never saw it, because he didn't need me to see it. He didn't need anyone to see it.

On that day in his quiet voice he told me for a reason. He wanted his daughter to understand how he loved the woman who was dying.

I laid my head back on his his barrel chest. I heard his heartbeat for her, for him, for me.

He made sure that love lived on.

It made her happy.

Four words that made me.

--me strauss Letting me strauss


Trée said...

Beautiful Liz. Just beautiful. :-)

ME Strauss said...

Hi Tree, thank you. It is what really happened. :)

Dawn said...

What a wonderful memory to share with us, Liz. Thinking about what makes another happy - not just thinking about it, but doing it, is the epitome of love. Your dad said it and lived it so simply. I'm lucky to have had a similar kind of relationship with my dad. We never had this conversation, but I saw the same answer at the end of their lives. Thank you for helping me to remember.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Dawn,
It is a simple answer-- simple in words, but hard to live a life. :) Imagine someone living without a need for another to see. That is a true gift of love.

dsnake1 said...

this is one of the most beautiful and touching posts i have read on the Net. it really reaches deep inside. you are blessed to have such a wonderful dad.

four simple words, which i knew of, but which at times,i did not adhere to.:(

ME Strauss said...

Hi Dsnake,
Coming from you, that is something to hold and to feel deep inside.
Thank you.

shokthx said...

What a great way to remember your father.

ME Strauss said...

thank you. It is. :)

Adrienne Zurub said...

I'm weeping, thank you for bringing me in to the spirit of you! What a great way to remember your parents way of love.

Adrienne Zurub,
author of 'NOtes From the MotherShip~Naked Invisibles'

ME Strauss said...

Hi Adrienne,
What a powerful comment you wrote me. Thank you so. I am so lucky to have known the spirit of such love and to have heard this story. It truly did make me.

Janus Torrell said...

Thanks for sharin' that was really nice.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Janus,
Thank you. That's really nice comment.

Kirk M said...

Oh yes indeed...

The years my sister and I spent taking care of both parents at the same time right to the the time they both passed on (the same year, six months apart) were the most trying times of my life and there were many times during that last year that both my mind and heart screamed for relief and release of what can be an awful responsibility. At those times when things were at their worst my exhausted mind would suddenly throw memories my way of how my mother and father gave my sister and I unconditional love and how they took care of us when we were ill or just feeling bad. All the comfort they gave us and the great upbringing we received. And all the wonderful times we had together. It was those memories that would enable me to drag myself once more out of bed at 3:00am in order to take one (or both) of them to the emergency room after a call from my sister or head to the old farmhouse to make them dinner with a blinding migraine and no sleep.

All those years they did for us. Looking back now I can thank the 'powers that be' for offering me the opportunity of giving something back for all that they gave us for so long.

Thank you for reminding me.

ME Strauss said...

I read your comment days ago and answered from my email. Now I see it's not here. Gosh, I hope you know that I heard you.

Those of us who had the blessing of being touched by unconditional love we know. What can I say, except that we know? It makes my eyes tear and my heart with gratitude to read your comment, because I know. Thank you.

I mean that.

Lucid said...

This is my first visit to your site. I like the way you write. This story about dad is heart warming. It took my father to have cancer before any of us got to know the real him.

There is just something about dad's that makes us feel so secure. Thank you for sharing!

ME Strauss said...

Hi lucid.
I feel grateful to meet you. My dad was old oak tree who could talk to me and tell me what life had in store. I was very lucky. He knew how to love unconditionally.

rdl said...

beautiful post!

ME Strauss said...

thank you, rdl! thank you.

Anudeep Gupta said...

my eyes are wet after reading this..

ME Strauss said...

That's a profound compliment.
Thank you.

Seamus Atnhony said...

Wonderful. As a new Dad, I hope my daughter regards me as highly as you do yours at that I can be as selfless a partner.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Seamus!
I was a lucky daughter. It sounds like you have a lucky daughter too. :)