Archive for February, 2019

A Nod, A Smile, A lifetime

Posted in Uncategorized on February 6, 2019 by michaelcogdill

My mother glanced above her TV this week at the smiling portrait of her with my father. She then glanced at me, nodded, smiled, and said everything I need to know about relationships without saying a word.

Relationships are not supposed to hurt.

Breakups, sure. But marriage — and all things like it — should not. They must not.

My mom and dad endured suffering no lifetime should know. Alcoholism. Domestic violence. The heavy, hanging branches that can grow from roots of childhood poverty and a narrow view of a boundless God.

But Love prevailed.

This is about Love, done well, after all. A lesson in how to do it before the sun sets on the best of our years.

For all his failings through life, my dad took responsibility for his sobriety, for the suffering he caused. He made amends. My mother realizes if she had stopped enabling his suffering — their suffering — sooner, they would have had years more of the adoration for one another they had in the end.

So when my mother nodded, and smiled, she reminded me of the simple truth.

Relationships are designed not to feel bad, but good! Many a Vegas joke has burst out laughter about the misery of marriage. In the end, my parents found a way to do the same. They laughed not at the old suffering. They found a way to grin and laugh about themselves. They managed to do it before it was too late.

Daddy would remind mama of how he loved to invite her for a dance — “My dear, may I borrow your frame for this struggle?”

She would giggle.

He would sing strange little songs, full of nothing that should ever make sense. Lyrics such as “Have you ever seen Sally make water? She can go for a mile and a quarter.” I don’t know what that means.

But mama always giggled. So do I.

Daddy would laugh about his bad feet, recurring hemorrhoids and the thrusting out of his false teeth while driving the lawn mower. He attacked that mower once, wrestled it down a hill in a hail of white hot language. Somehow they could laugh about that, too.

They became the most unselfish couple, sweet on and with one another, each wanting to give the other all the care their weathered hands and hearts could hold. Daddy laughed at himself while learning to love that self. Mama did the same.

Each became a rain coat for the other in life, no matter what poured down.

As I write this, I remember daddy laughing at a joke about tattered rain coats — “My London Fog’s so old, now it’s just an Asheville Drizzle.”

She would giggle.

I need to be more like them. I need to live according to the advice given me by their latter years together. If it hurts, stop doing it, early. Stopping new hurts can prevent old scars, and give new happiness. Forgive relentlessly. No, don’t let the hurt keep happening, but confront it, forgive it. Let it go. Cut away the chain and let the hurt run off. And don’t chase it into the woods, lost for years in there. Appreciate every little thing. My dad was grateful for even a glass of water my mother brought him in his emphysema-smothering last years.

He let her know, with that same nod. The same little grin. A simple tender word. A reminder how he loved her. How very grateful he was for her, to her.

They insisted on such, from one another. We all should, too.

My mother is far better than I am. Far more articulate. She said all I’ve said here without speaking a solitary syllable. That little nod. The coquette’s grin. And suddenly she was back, a lifetime ago, in love with the boy who eloped with her to Clayton, Georgia, I’m sure with hardly five dollars in his pocket.

And to us all, this says — don’t let it hurt. That is not Love’s calling. Change the self, and the relationship will change.

Begin before the sun goes down — on the remainder of a lifetime.