Love Lessons from My Father

For the last three weeks, I have been taking myself through a nine-week spiritual journaling intensive to help myself develop a deeper connection with the Creator and myself. In doing so, I came to realize that much of what I was journaling about had to do with lessons I learned from my parents about patience, love, commitment, grace, wisdom and so many other positive qualities. I miss them both dearly. My mother passed away my first semester in seminary and my father passed away my last semester in seminary. I miss them both dearly. One of the wisdoms I inherited from them was some valuable lessons about love.

A few years before I entered seminary my mother’s micro-infarct dementia began to take increased control over her life. By the time, I began seminary, I knew she had very little time left with us. One of the things I remember most was a conversation I had with my father about love. The last few years of my mother’s life were not easy. She had lost the ability to control her bowels and bladder. She no longer knew who most of us were. She didn’t remember who my father was. There were days my father struggled to get her to eat or drink. Each day was a challenge for my father. His primary connections to the world were his conversations with his children and his daily run to the diner to get a meal that would last him for the day. The last few years he made so many sacrifices in his life to give my mother the highest quality of life he could give her.

I remember talking to him one day and asked him why he was choosing to keep mom at home and not put her in a nursing home. His words to me were simple, but profound. "She may not remember me or how much she loved me, but I still know her and I still love her. “ My father’s love for my mother was profound. In that one sentence, he taught me that love is unconditional, love is patient, and love is kind. You do not stop loving someone just because they are no longer capable of loving you. Love is patient and love is kind. Love is unconditional. Long after my mother had stopped knowing who he was, she still knew that my father loved her unconditionally. She knew he was the one who took care of her each day. She knew he was the one who would never leave her or forsake her.

My father used to ask me what my mom saw in him. I used to tell him that she saw in him years ago, the man he would be for her during this time when she would need him to love her unconditionally. She saw that he had the ability to love her unconditionally.

My father inconsistently believed in the existence of any Higher Power, but I knew that the Creator never stopped loving my father. The Creator showed up in my father when my mother most needed to experience the unconditional love of the Creator. The Creator showed up in my father every time the bed linens needed to be changed in the middle of the night because my mother had soiled them. The Creator showed up in my father every time my mother would wake up crying and he would comfort her. The Creator showed up in my father as he sat by her bed on the morning she took her last breath. Love is patient. Love is kind. It endures all things, believes all things. Hopes all things. Love never dies.