For my daughter: what your father taught me about love

For my daughter:

They say that a girl learns how she is supposed to be treated by observing how her father treats her mother.  Unfortunately, you will not see this firsthand.  You will learn about other kind of love from all the people in your life that love you.  But you will not see how your father and I loved each other.  So this is my attempt to write down, the best I can, what I learned from your father’s and my love.

  1. True love does exist.   You might have to wait for it, but it exists.  I had given up on the idea of falling in love.  Part of that was my own fault.  We come from an Irish family and showing affection and love is not our strength.  We are not usually warm and fuzzy.  I never let my guard down.  I still don’t know why your father thought I was special and worked for my affections but I am happy he did. 
  2. It’s okay to have standards but still keep your heart open.  I had a list of ten items.  The top three were Republican, Catholic and a Red Sox fan.  Almost everyone thought I was nuts and told me I was being unreasonable. (The irony is now the only one of those three I can say I am with any certainty is a Red Sox fan.  These days I feel “meh” about religion and politics.)  The fourth item was being Irish which your father was ⅛ Irish so that might be stretching it.  I can’t remember much of the rest of the list except I wanted a man that could provide intelligent conversation (check),  a man who like to travel (check) and a man who had depth to his personality (check).  I wanted a man who could to the symphony and wine tasting one night and go to a baseball game, drink beer and eat hot dogs the next.  I was told that one was unreasonable but it described your father perfectly.   I also wanted an older man.  I almost didn’t give your father a chance because I was stuck on the age issue.   You have to be honest in what you are looking for but you also have to know when to be open. 
  3. If it’s meant to be, it will happen.  Your father and I were not a likely pair.  I was 7 years (actually 6 years and 363 days) older than him.  We also lived 7 hours apart.  I was not looking for a younger man or for a long distance relationship.  Your father wasn’t initially looking for a long distance relationship either.  Your father would text me and say he liked older woman and I pretty much would text back with “well, good for you.” Your father pursued and I resisted but in the end, it happened and there was nothing to stop it.  We fell in love.  We fell hard and we fell fast. It was meant to be. 
  4. You are worthy of a nice dinner.  It’s not about the money, it’s about the effort.  A friend of mine who is like a big brother to me once said that if a guy takes you to a chain restaurant on your first date, then there shouldn’t be a second.  I told this to your father and he agreed 100%.  Granted, your father generally had a disdain for all chain restaurants (except Texas Roadhouse and Chili’s) but you are unique and he should not take you to a generic place. 
  5. Love brings out the best in you.  The right one will make you want to be the best version of yourself. They will see the best in you.  You will strive to be a better person when in love. 
  6. Love with care- choose your words wisely.  Your father and I were/are both passionate people and we had some heated disagreements.  We were both guilty of saying things that we didn’t mean.  Choose your words carefully.  Love can be strong but life is fragile.   Even though we were both guilty of it, I am haunted by those words.  Even if you forgive each other and make up, you can’t take words back. 
  7. You don’t know how much you love someone until they are at death’s door.  Your father and I lived a busy life and we didn’t always take time to enjoy our love quietly.  But there were many days that defined our love.  Days where I thought I couldn’t love your father more than I already did.  The evening we got engaged at Mahar’s.  Our wedding day.  The day you were born.  Each of these events made us realize greater depths of our love.  I remember being in labor and I was cursing everyone and everything (sorry but it was true, labor is no joke!)   I remember your father saying he loved me so much and that he never loved me more than he did at that moment.  My love reached its culminating point when he was at death’s door.  You don’t know how much you love someone until you realize that they could be gone at any moment.
  8. Love doesn’t die.  A person will die but the love that exists doesn’t die.  When your father and I made our wedding vows, we vowed to love and honor each other, all the days of our lives.  Your father may not be here anymore, but I still love him and honor him and I know wherever he is, he loves me too.
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