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Sharon Russell: An old love that lasts

By Sharon Randall

This is a love story. It might be too late for Valentine’s Day, but it’s never too late for love.

Did you grow up wanting to be loved? Most of us do. But some of us want it more than others.

I was one of the wanters.

Early on, I learned to watch faces to see what they thought of me. Did they light up when they saw me or look away? Did the corners of their mouths turn up or down? Did they seem happy to be with me or bored?

I loved any face that seemed to love me. I even loved some that did not. But I loved the “nots” with caution, like a dog that gets slapped by the hand that feeds it and still hopes for scraps.

My mother and her eight sisters were forever falling in or out of love with someone who’d be known as either “Good Old So and So” or “Good Riddance.”

I watched closely the dance of romance between them, how it could change in a heartbeat from a waltz in the moonlight, to a glare across a room, to a flat-out fistfight in an outhouse.

It was both entertaining and disheartening. Even as a child, I wanted love to last, no matter what, come what may.

The exception to all that marital mayhem was my grandparents. They married as teenagers, raised one timid boy and nine headstrong girls, and often breathed fire mixed with colorful expletives while arguing politics or religion or money.

But somehow they always got over it. They didn’t always like each other. But they never seemed to doubt their love.

I remember once, seeing the look on their faces as they slow-danced together in the kitchen to music that played only in their hearts. And I thought, “That’s it. That’s what I want. An old love that lasts forever.”

In church, I learned that God loves me, no matter what, come what may. I couldn’t see God to judge for myself. But I saw his hand in his creations, in birds and mountains and my baby brother. I saw his face in the faces of his people, saints and sinners alike. I saw his will at work in my life day by day.

Finally, I looked at my own face in the mirror and knew for the first time, as I do now, by the grace of God, I am loved.

That made all the difference. When we know we are loved, we become whole. We stop looking for something or someone to “complete” us, and start finding ways to be love in the world.

Sometimes I forget that. But sooner or later, God reminds me. Love sets us free to love.

When I was 21, I married for love and felt sure it would last forever. I fell in love all over again with the births of each of my three children. Then the kids grew up and we lost their dad to cancer, and I learned something new about love: You don’t have to be in the same room with someone to know they love you. People leave, but love remains.

Being alone on my own was an adventure. I worked. Traveled. Spent time with family and friends. When I started dating, I didn’t plan to remarry. I missed my old life but knew that it was over. I was happy in my new life, enjoying my grown kids and the older, wiser woman I’d become.

Then, when I least expected it, I fell in love. Go figure. Five years later, we were married.

For 12 years, I’ve been waking up to see the face of God in the loving kindness of someone our grandkids call “Papa Mark.”

Even before he shaves.

He brings me coffee to drink in bed. We slow-dance in the kitchen. We would fast-dance, too, but we’re waiting until he has hip replacement surgery.

We might not always like each other. (I have reasons; he does not.) But we never doubt our love. It’s like us: Old, but young at heart. And, yes, it will last forever even after we are gone.

If you are missing love in your life, I hope you’ll try this: Stop missing it and start being it.

Someone or something — a child or a neighbor or an animal or a cause — needs the love you have to offer. If you think it’s too late, please, take my word for it.

It’s never too late for love.

Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 777394, Henderson, NV 89077 or www.sharonrandall.com.

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