When we first met I held back so much afraid to show my deepest feelings
The Best Kind of Love
I have a friend who is falling in love. She honestly claims the sky is bluer. Mozart moves her to tears. She has lost 15 pounds and looks like a cover girl.
“I’m young again!” she shouts exuberantly.
As my friend raves on about her new love, I’ve taken a good look at my old one. My husband of almost 20 years, Scott, has gained 15 pounds. Once a marathon runner, he now runs only down hospital halls. His hairline is receding and his body shows the signs of long working hours and too many candy bars. Yet he can still give me a certain look across a restaurant table and I want to ask for the check and head home.
When my friend asked me “What will make this love last?” I ran through all the obvious reasons: commitment, shared interests, unselfishness, physical attraction, communication. Yet there’s more. We still have fun. Spontaneous good times. Yesterday, after slipping the rubber band off the rolled up newspaper, Scott flipped it playfully at me: this led to an all-out war. Last Saturday at the grocery, we split the list and raced each other to see who could make it to the checkout first. Even washing dishes can be a blast. We enjoy simply being together.
And there are surprises. One time I came home to find a note on the front door that led me to another note, then another, until I reached the walk-in closet. I opened the door to find Scott holding a “pot of gold” (my cooking kettle) and the “treasure” of a gift package. Sometimes I leave him notes on the mirror and little presents under his pillow.
There is understanding. I understand why he must play basketball with the guys. And he understands why, once a year, I must get away from the house, the kids － and even him － to meet my sisters for a few days of nonstop talking and laughing.
There is sharing. Not only do we share household worries and parental burdens － we also share ideas. Scott came home from a convention last month and presented me with a thick historical novel. Though he prefers thrillers and science fiction, he had read the novel on the plane. He touched my heart when he explained it was because he wanted to be able to exchange ideas about the book after I’d read it.
There is forgiveness. When I’m embarrasssingly loud and crazy at parties, Scott forgives me. When he confessed losing some of our savings in the stock market, I gave him a hug and said, “It’s okay. It’s only money.”
There is sensitivity. Last week he walked through the door with that look that tells me it’s been a tough day. After he spent some time with the kids, I asked him what happened. He told me about a 60-year-old woman who’d had a stroke. He wept as he recalled the woman’s husband standing beside her bed, caressing her hand. How was he going to tell this husband of 40 years that his wife would probably never recover? I shed a few tears myself. Because of the medical crisis. Because there were still people who have been married 40 years. Because my husband is still moved and concerned after years of hospital rooms and dying patients.
There is faith. Last Tuesday a friend came over and confessed her fear that her husband is losing his courageous battle with cancer. On Wednesday I went to lunch with a friend who is struggling to reshape her life after divorce. On Thursday a neighbor called to talk about the frightening effects of Alzheimer’s disease on her father-in-law’s personality. On Friday a childhood friend called long-distance to tell me her father had died. I hung up the phone and thought, this is too much heartache for one week. Through my tears, as I went out to run some errands, I noticed the boisterous orange blossoms of the gladiolus outside my window. I heard the delighted laughter of my son and his friend as they played. I caught sight of a wedding party emerging from a neighbor’s house. The bride, dressed in satin and lace, tossed her bouquet to her cheering friends. That night, I told my husband about these events. We helped each other acknowledge the cycles of life and that the joys counter the sorrows. It was enough to keep us going.
Finally, there is knowing. I know Scott will throw his laundry just shy of the hamper every night; he’ll be late to most appointments and eat the last chocolate in the box. He knows that I sleep with a pillow over my head; I’ll lock us out of the house at a regular basis, and I will also eat the last chocolate.
I guess our love lasts because it is comfortable. No, the sky is not bluer: it’s just a familiar hue. We don’t feel particularly young: we’ve experienced too much that has contributed to our growth and wisdom, taking its toll on our bodies, and created our memories.
I hope we’ve got what it takes to make our love last. As a bride, I had Scott’s wedding band engraved with Robert Browning’s line “Grow old along with me!” We’re following those instructions.
“If anything is real, the heart will make it plain.”
A Promise of Spring
Early in the spring, about a month before my grandpa's stroke, I began walking for an hour every afternoon. Some days I would walk four blocks south to see Grandma and Grandpa. At eighty-six, Grandpa was still quite a gardener, so I always watched for his earliest blooms and each new wave of spring flowers.
I was especially interested in flowers that year because I was planning to landscape my own yard and I was eager to get Grandpa's advice. I thought I knew pretty much what I wanted — a yard full of bushes and plants that would bloom from May till November.
It was right after the first rush of purple violets in the lawns and the sudden blaze of forsythia that spring that Grandpa had a stroke. It left him without speech and with no movement on his left side. The whole family rallied to Grandpa. We all spent many hours by his side. Some days his eyes were eloquent — laughing at our reported mishaps, listening alertly, revealing painful awareness of his inability to care for himself. There were days, too, when he slept most of the time, overcome with the weight of his approaching death.
As the months passed, I watched the growing earth with Grandpa's eyes. Each time I was with him, I gave him a garden report. He listened, gripping my hand with the sure strength and calm he had always had. But he could not answer my questions. The new flowers would blaze, peak, fade, and die before I knew their names.
Grandpa's illness held him through the spring and on, week by week, through summer. I began spending hours at the local nursery, studying and choosing seeds and plants. It gave me special joy to buy plants I had seen in Grandpa's garden and give them humble starts in my own garden. I discovered Sweet William, which I had admired for years in Grandpa's garden without knowing its name. And I planted it in his honor.
As I waited and watched in the garden and by Grandpa's side, some quiet truths emerged. I realized that Grandpa loved flowers that were always bloom; he kept a full bed of roses in his garden. But I noticed that Grandpa left plenty of room for the brief highlights. Not every nook of his garden was constantly in bloom. There was always a treasured surprise tucked somewhere.
I came to see, too, that Grandpa's garden mirrored his life. He was a hard worker who understood the law of the harvest. But along with his hard work, Grandpa knew how to enjoy each season, each change. We often teased him about his life history. He had written two paragraphs summarizing fifty years of work, and a full nine pages about every trip and vacation he'd ever taken.
In July, Grandpa worsened. One hot afternoon arrived when no one else was at his bedside. He was glad to have me there, and reached out his hand to pull me close.
I told Grandpa what I had learned — that few flowers last from April to November. Some of the most beautiful bloom for only a month at most. To really enjoy a garden, you have to plant corners and drifts and rows of flowers that will bloom and grace the garden, each in its own season.
His eyes listened to every word. Then, another discovery: "If I want a garden like yours, Grandpa, I'm going to have to work." His grin laughed at me, and his eyes teased me.
"Grandpa, in your life right now the chrysanthemums are in bloom. Chrysanthemums and roses." Tears clouded both our eyes. Neither of us feared this last flower of fall, but the wait for spring seems longest in November. We knew how much we would miss each other.
Sitting there, I suddenly felt that the best gift I could give Grandpa would be to give voice to the testimony inside both of us. He had never spoken of his testimony to me, but it was such a part of his life that I had never questioned if Grandpa knew. I knew he knew.
"Grandpa," I began — and his grip tightened as if he knew what I was going to say — "I want you to know that I have a testimony. I know the Savior lives. I bear witness to you that Joseph Smith is a prophet. I love the Restoration and joy in it." The steadiness in Grandpa's eyes told how much he felt it too. "I bear witness that President Kimball is a prophet. I know the Book of Mormon is true, Grandpa. Every part of me bears this witness."
"Grandpa," I added quietly, "I know our Father in Heaven loves you." Unbidden, unexpected, the Spirit bore comforting, poignant testimony to me of our Father's love for my humble, quiet Grandpa.
A tangible sense of Heavenly Father's compassionate awareness of Grandpa's suffering surrounded us and held us. It was so personal and powerful that no words were left to me — only tears of gratitude and humility, tears of comfort.
Grandpa and I wept together.
It was the end of August when Grandpa died, the end of summer. As we were choosing flowers from the florist for Grandpa's funeral, I slipped away to Grandpa's garden and walked with my memories of columbine and Sweet William. Only the tall lavender and white phlox were in bloom now, and some baby's breath in another corner.
On impulse, I cut the prettiest strands of phlox and baby's breath and made one more arrangement for the funeral. When they saw it, friends and family all smiled to see Grandpa's flowers there. We all felt how much Grandpa would have liked that.
The October after Grandpa's death, I planted tulip and daffodil bulbs, snowdrops, crocuses, and bluebells. Each bulb was a comfort to me, a love sent to Grandpa, a promise of spring.
That was a late October evening, the very first day that I ever saw you. Love at first site you may say. What a feelings. I knew right then that I will be spending rest of my life with you. I still remember the very first smile in your face, looking down to me from your balcony. WOW, how could I forget that?
That was the year 2003, my very first year in Dhaka University. Life was wonderful, lots of fun at the university and home, in the old town of Dhaka. Just came out of all male college. Got the freedom of my life. No restriction from home, I can come home whenever I like or do whatever I want to do. Just like a bird, no limit.
To be honest, until that ate October day, I did not a have any female friends. So you can forget about a girlfriend. I was very shy and always nervous when surrounded women. But that afternoon, a RED piece of thin cloth (Orna) just changed all that.
I was walking down the street, just enjoying a wonderful late afternoon. All of a sudden, a piece of cloth just dropped on me, covering my whole upper body. I got surprised and uncover myself. Look around me and then looked up. There you were standing on your first floor balcony and laughing at me. That was the first time I have ever seen someone that pretty.
I am sorry — you said with big smile in your face.
My “orna” just dropped out, would you mind to hold on to it I am coming down.
No word out of my mouth. Is this really happening to me. Did she said that she is coming down.
I look around nervously. Should I just wait or should I leave. Where do I go. I see a little stair going from the street to the down stair of that house. I looked in by extending my head. Should I go in?
Before I decide I see you standing by the door. Just 5 feet away, with a great smile on your face.
Sorry for that, could I have my “Orna” please — you said.
Sure, Sure, here it is — I replied with a very nervous voice.
I step up to her and hand over her “Orna”.
Thanks, do you live around here? You asked.
Yes — I said.
Thanks again. I will see you again.
I nod my head with agreement.
That was my first conversation with you and for sure was not the last. My first love — I love you.