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Thursday, 06 August 2015 14:19

What Love Looks Like at 97

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Grandma and GrandpaThe concept of love is a fluid notion, and yet it remains one of mankind's most powerful emotions. There is love from parent to child, between siblings, with friends, for grandparents, even love for teammates, comrades in arms, neighbors, mentors and religious leaders. And let's not forget a love for God in all his glory. 

And yet, not to sound blasphemous, perhaps there is nothing more glorious than love between spouses. 

We have all seen (or even experienced) bad marriages where anger, jealousy, bitterness and contention ruled the day. Some of us have built up nigh-impenetrable barriers around our own hearts because we fear getting hurt (again), walls so thick that we actually begin to give up on love, to wave at it like a passing stranger when it brings two others together because at the end of the day, true love can't possibly exist for us, can it? 

I want to tell you about the validity of love, the true nature of love, the undeniable power of love, and show you what it looks like...at 97 years of age. 

Recently I had the opportunity to visit my grandparents who live south of Tampa, Florida. My grandfather, who will actually be 98 on Halloween, was a World War II paratrooper who fought courageously in the South Pacific to defend the freedoms that so many Americans blindly (and ignorantly) take for granted or even complain about (a topic for another day). Grandpa became a father during the war, a bit of blessed news during an otherwise hellishly dark time. He went on to have other children with his first wife, but sadly she passed away.

Eventually he met my grandmother, a fiery (and equally stubborn) Southern lady who grew up on a farm, knew how to work, and had a gentle (and genteel) soul to match her inner-steel. In 1977 they married and he became the only grandpa that I really knew. 

As I watched these two love-birds in their "golden age" of life for my five days with them, I saw how different and simple their eternal love really is and I can't help but wonder if perhaps there were not some lessons that we could all learn from it. 

Grandma and Grandpa at reunionAt 97, love is not big vacations or fancy dinners or new jewelry or new cars. 
Love at 97 is worrying that your spouse drinks enough water during the day, that their favorite music is playing because it soothes the mind, and reading the highlights from the sports section because they can't see well enough to do so themselves.

At 97, love is not trim bodies, designer clothes, new shoes or who is right. 
Love at 97 is making sure your spouse's nose is clear, that they aren't coughing because they are choking on their last bite, that they have on comfortable socks with grip tape on the bottom so they can shuffle across the floor safely and arguments are playful banter where the goal is to agree, not win. 

At 97, love is not parties or purchases or social acceptance.
Love at 97 is about talking about anything and everything or nothing at all, about making sure that the right pills are taken at the right time, and wondering when your grand kids will call their grandfather because you love him and want him to be loved, too.

At 97, love is not rushing anything or criticism or arguing over what to watch.
Love at 97 is about stocking the freezer with your spouse's favorite Klondike Bars, about trying different health smoothies for their nutrition, and about making your spouse get out of their chair themselves because you want them to maintain their independence as much as possible. 

At 97, love is not about about how the toothpaste sits, how the money is spent, who did (or didn't) do the dishes and whose mom was right.
Love at 97 is about putting your spouse's dentures in to soak overnight, cleaning up the dishes (and cooking) because your spouse is too weak and sticking together inseparably no matter what others may say or do to you.  

At 97, love is not about you, it is about them.
Love at 97 is far better than most of us can imagine and something we should all strive, forgive, hope, and pray for. It is about pure love, selfless love, with an eye single to serving your loved one and putting their needs first. 

I pray that we may all find, develop, cherish and cultivate such a love story in our own lives! 
 

Jeremy C. Holm

Author & American athlete Jeremy C. Holm has spent over half his life in the fast-paced winter sport of bobsled, including as the Head Coach for the US Adaptive Bobsled Team. He has a degree in Journalism and is pursuing a degree in Military History at the American Military University. In addition to motivational speaking and corporate appearances around the world, Jeremy is the author of three books and spends his time camping, hiking, writing and trying to make history, one day at a time.

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