A Thing or Two About Love

by Erica Bethe Levin – July 7, 2011

Let me tell you a thing or two about love.  I have been realizing recently just how lucky I am to have so much of it in my life.  I’m not bragging about a ridiculously torrid and sexy love affair or a secret romance; I am talking about the consistent, unconditional, calm, steady and unending love of family.  And on this very day, at this very specific time in my life, that family includes a web of people far and wide… but I’m speaking of just six individuals: mom, dad, sister, grandma, the man I want to spend the rest of my life with and my dog.

Spawned by 92-year-old Grandma Molly falling ill this summer, I have made it a priority to fly home to Florida every few weeks to spend time with her, subsequently also spending time with mom, dad and sister.  I don’t want to say that it takes some sort of tragedy or unpleasant circumstance to bring people together, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.  It sure puts on display the kind of love that we’re sometimes too busy/tired/fatigued/hungry/achy/overworked/underpaid/hungover/social/forgetful/stressed to see in our day-to-day lives.

I’ve been able to see that my mom (Molly’s daughter-in-law) can’t stand the fact that Grandma has been in and out of hospitals and rehab facilities for the past three months and hates the food.  Seafood stews and veal cutlets at these kinds of places are not for the weak of stomach.  So my mom, the phenomenal home cook, everyday brings Grandma something she has made from scratch that she knows she loves – even if it’s just a simple hamburger on a bun with lettuce and tomato (which in Grandma’s mind is only inferior to the “frankfurter”).  She does Grandma’s laundry, brings her her knitting needles, but most of all visits her every single day, even if it’s only on her lunch break.

I’ve seen that my dad, the doctor (and Molly’s only child), has not allowed just anyone to care for his mother as he oversees every chart, prescription, medication and breathing treatment that goes into Grandma’s frail (but getting stronger everyday!) little body.  He brings her Dunkin’ Donuts coffee with cream and sugar and a few Munchkins in the morning.  He talks to her nurses all day long.  Again, he visits her every single day.

I’ve seen that my sister, over the past few months, has spent hours a day with Grandma, giving her haircuts (Molly has never been to a salon in her entire life, opting to cut her own hair since she was a kid), filing her nails (pretty sure she’s never had a real manicure either) and bringing her tuna salad sandwiches and broccoli cheddar soup from Panera.  Most of all, she talks to Grandma, engages in conversation and is a true friend to this woman, my firecracker.

I’ve seen my boyfriend – a welcome extension to my family and the love of my life – fall in love with a woman he had never even met.  When I first found out that Grandma was sick, he and I had plans to visit my family in Florida together for the first time.  Although we’ve been together for years and he had met my family on myriad occasions, we had never had the opportunity to go home together.  Looking forward to his first Passover and days upon days at the beach, taking yoga, going for long walks and swimming in the pool, he instead spent hours with me a day at that (relatively dreadful) rehab center with Molly, listening to stories of her family, their history, Ellis Island and how she met my grandpa.  It was his idea to send her a CARE package when we got back to Chicago.  He wrote her a beautiful note.  He called his mother – who, after Molly, might be the best knitter I’ve ever come across – and asked her to knit Grandma a blanket since the hospital ones were so cold and impersonal.  Grandma has not let go of that blanket in months; it provides her great comfort and happiness during this transitional time.  True love.

And since I mentioned my dog earlier, I just have to note that the love she provides brings a smile to all of the aforementioned characters’ faces, in good times and in bad; in sickness and in health.  That, my friend, is unconditional love.

Through all of these displays of affection – actions and words that are never meant to be noticed by others – I have seen a love in my family that I’ve been too busy/tired/fatigued/hungry/achy/overworked/underpaid/hungover/social/forgetful/stressed to see in years.  And through all of this, I feel more loved than ever.  I feel more love than ever.  I love more than ever.

About the Author: Erica Bethe Levin

Erica Bethe Levin is the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of CheekyChicago.com. She loves to write, but she also really loves her dog Pippin, spaghetti, wine and Billy Joel.