Picture by Lindsay, Flickr

Searching for Love? Look Beyond the Sexy Abs & Stilettos

Picture credit: By Lindsay, cc by 2.0

Scan the magazine racks at the checkout today. Look at their endless tales of who has found love, lost love, gambled love, become too fat for love. Here is love defined as desire, attraction and thrill alone—a love symbolised as sexy abs and stilettos. But there is another kind of love, one that I have seen up close. That was what I shared on BBC Radio 2’s Pause for Thought segment, when I was asked to chat about the topic of Dedication.

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In Sickness and in Health

ByCandida-Performa-Flickr

Picture credit: candidaperforma, flickr, ccby2.0

I can’t remember a time when my mother was well. Happy, yes. Coping, yes. But not well. Soon after I was born she slipped a disc in her lower back. A botched medical job to fix it resulted in nerve damage, causing more pain. I’ve lost count of the many illnesses she’s had—bursitis, diverticulitis, fibromyalgia, asthma to name a few. She’s suffered from migraines. Her fingers are bent out of shape from arthritis. Mum jokes that she has no organ left worth donating to medical research. The jokes were welcome respite last week when I visited her as she began chemo to fight stage-3 cancer.

Forty years with a sick wife hasn’t been easy on my father either. He retired early, in 2001, to become Mum’s full-time carer. Today he cooks most of the meals, cleans the house, does the shopping, massages Mum’s back each day, and lugs her mobility scooter in and out of the car when she’s well enough to go out. When Dad dedicated himself to mum ‘in sickness and in health’ all those decades ago, he couldn’t have realised the promise he was making—that the health issues soon to beset his bride would overshadow the rest of their lives. Overshadow his life. But ‘in sickness and in health’ is a promise he’s kept.

A Love Deeper Than Desire and Attraction

By Patrick, Flickr

Picture credit: Patrick, flickr, cc by-nc 2.0

It’s a kind of love you won’t read about on the front of the glossies, with their endless tales of ‘love’ lost and found, and their Top 10 lists of how to lure ‘love’ and make love. Their version of love is about little more than desire, attraction, thrill, possession; about temporal, surface values wrapped in sexy abs and stilettos.

There’s a place for desire and attraction. But there’s another kind of love that doesn’t get much coverage in the glossies. This love is less sexy, but rich. Less thrilling, but deep. A love that cooks meals, massages backs, and lugs mobility scooters into cars each day. A love that is more cardigans and comfortable shoes than perfect abs and stilettos. A love not so much of desire and attraction, but of sacrifice and dedication.

Imagine a glossy magazine about that kind of love: full of stories about spoon-feeding senile grandparents, and caring for mentally ill children, and ‘in sickness and in health’ promises that last for decades. A magazine about the toughest, yet most meaningful acts in life.

I’m not sure it would sell. Not enough stilettos, not enough thrill. But if a publisher fancies the idea, I’d like to suggest my father for the cover.

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