“I shall but love you better after death.” By Browning. Is that possible? From experience, there is no debate. But how can it be when there is no physical presence of your life-long love. It CAN be, and it is so—to me.
How did love enter into my life? I have written about my personal experience within several stories. “A Love Story.” “Sixty Years of Marriage.” “Christmas, Alone.” For this lesson, I shall plagiarize from those writings. It all is about “love” as I knew it—as I was showered with it—as it made my life a radiant experience. And it all happened when I reached the ripe old age of twenty-three.
She had a beautiful smile, radiant, engaging. Her eyes sparkled like a dozen stars. It was instant admiration at first glance. Our introduction was awkward because I was speechless. I met a young lady, Dolores, age nineteen, and who eventually became my wife. I was unaware at the time that I had also been introduced to “love.” I was an ignorant clod.
The year we met was 1946. I had just been discharged from the Marine Corps. I had spent two years stationed on Midway Island, where the only contact with women were the pictures on the walls of our quarters—of young ladies in bathing suits. Oh, there was a visit in 1944, of a young movie star named Betty Hutton. I came near enough to her to count the freckles on her back. There was love on the island: the gooney birds (Albatross) mating, kissing beak to beak.
My relationship with Dolores progressed, but like a turtle, slow. We danced at the Rainbow Ballroom, Palomar Ballroom, Benevolent Hall. It may have been at the Majestic Ballroom that we finally attained the “boyfriend-girlfriend” status. I was on cloud nine. Meeting at the dance halls was enjoyable, but we also enjoyed the movies on Wednesday nights. Our first kiss? I do not remember. By coincidence, I was studying Shakespeare at San Jose State, and thanks to him I became very aware that my feelings towards Dolores were true love. Strange. I guess it just creeped up on me.
Dating, a courtship, and a marriage that lasted for over sixty years. The last Valentine I gave Dolores, year 2009, included the phrase: “I am thankful to be able to share my life with you. I will always love you.” There will be no more Valentines. Memories? Yes! Tons!
LOVE should not be dissected. It has different meanings to different people. At times, love falters, and heart-rending separation happens. I was one of the fortunate ones. Love bestowed on me a lady who was gregarious, charitable, compassionate, comprehensive, compatible. She was prone to embrace life with extraordinary gusto and enthusiasm. How can anyone survive without love?
Now, after all my rambling about love, I will end it with a line from a Mexican bolero (translated): “Love, Love, Love. It was born within you; it was born within me; it was born from the soul.”
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