This week I read about an elderly married couple in New York who died within two days of each other. Evelyn Bennett Drake died on July 20th and her husband Gilbert died two days later.
LOVE. What a love story. There are so many people who would love to be immersed in a love so strong in their lifetime that they could die of a broken heart.
That’s the thing about love. There are so many versions of it. Some search for it all their life. Some have it and can’t see it. Some see it and can’t appreciate it. Some celebrate it. Some relish in it. Some are terrified of it.
After reading that story I wondered if Gilbert had died of a broken heart. I’m sure the medics out there would question my romantic notions but if this was the case, I wish I could have had the opportunity to ask that couple how they forged and tended to such a strong bond. Evelyn was 98 and Gilbert was 100. They had been married since 1939. That’s a long, long time!
I decided to do some digging. I’ve been married for almost three years and whilst I’d like to claim the quality over quantity rule here, I feel it would be naive of me to claim to understand the changes in the dynamics of a relationship over the course of 50 years!!
I came across various books and articles giving advice from couples who have been married for many decades. They had many words of wisdom to offer… be kind to each other, listen to each other, keep the attraction alive… etc. As I read methodically through each article (considering I founded a company based on people’s love for one another and their basic need to express it, I find that this is a great use of my time ;) I realized that most of the advice could be rolled into one overarching principle. APPRECIATE ONE ANOTHER AND DON’T EVER STOP.
Mutual appreciation is intrinsic to any relationship that works. And how often do we stop to appreciate? I’m quick to criticize in all my relationships but I know that I don’t appreciate enough. Therefore I decided to change that. I started at home.
My husband (Trevor) and I have had a tough year. There’s been a lot of stuff going on. We’ve had sickness and death in the family. We’re in the middle of an IVF cycle. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. That is a fact. On reflection, the past year for us has been one of the hardest of our lives. But we’re stronger than ever. He’s been my rock over the last six months. I know I’ve been his.
I started to reflect. Words are cheap… I’ve told him a million times over the last few months that I couldn’t do it all without him but had I actually shown him? I took a leaf out of our customers books! What better way to do it than by telling and celebrating our story. I surprised him with this.
He loved it. When I gave it to him one sunny afternoon in July, it became one snapshot in a lifetime of moments that we’ll remember forever. Another memory to add to the bank.
We can only hope that the various loves we invest in throughout our lifetime will survive and thrive. But it doesn’t just happen automatically. We need to tend to and nourish our love if we’re to have a chance of dying of a broken heart at the age of 100! That’s the dream! Only another 66 years to go! I’m looking forward to the challenge and will try to remind myself from time to time to appreciate the love that I share with the amazing people in my life and the love that they’re kind enough to share with me.