How My Father’s Death And My Mother’s Dedication To Him Showed Me What Unconditional Love Truly Is
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Recently, I watched my parents enter into, perhaps, the most difficult stage of their marriage. My stepfather, who has been more like a father to me, unexpectedly found himself in the hospital after going into cardiac arrest.
For eight consecutive days, my mother never left his side. She slept on the narrow “bed” (slightly longer than her 5’2” frame and not nearly as comfortable as a Posturepedic) in his room each night all while monitoring the many doctors and nurses that came and went, caring for him.
While watching her, I thought about the traditional wedding vows repeated during so many nuptials, which include “in sickness and in health,” and how it had taken on a whole new meaning for her — and even for me.
One would think that a woman who saw her husband bedridden and unresponsive would at times be inconsolable, but I saw nothing but strength. Her actions not only represented her character, but also gave insight into the love that she had for her husband. I really believe that she kept her emotions intact, not only to keep a clear head when talking to hospital staff, but also to do the best she could in pursuing all options in getting my father back to his original healthy state. This wasn’t just love I was witnessing, but a love that was unconditional.
Dr. Susan J Elliott JD explored the idea of unconditional love in her PsychologyToday.com article “What Is Unconditional Love?” and explains how people misconstrue what it means to show it. She writes that “unconditional love really means, ‘I love you no matter what happens,’ not ‘no matter what you do to me.’”
I get exactly what Elliott is saying and to put it simply, such love says, I’ve seen you at your worst and I still love you. I am annoyed by what you just said, but I will still share my last piece of pie with you. I will put myself in an uncomfortable situation just to make sure that you are okay. On the contrary, unconditional love doesn’t mean you stay in an unhealthy relationship with someone.
I can see how loving a person (who is not your blood) forever and ever, without any restraint, can sound far-fetched, especially since there is always the possibility of a breakup. People change and sometimes, sadly, the change is not for the better. However, there is such a love that is strong enough to get couples through minute situations, as well as the ones that might send them over the edge. Whether that love is labeled unconditional, doesn’t matter. I just know that it exists.
No one wants to be in the position that my mom was in for that last week. If they were, their strength and love for their spouse would be tested in ways they would have never imagined.
With all of his children, his brother, and his wife by his side, my dad, unfortunately, took his last breath at 5:49 p.m. a few days ago. And even after his death, my mother still put his wishes for his remains before her own wants. She loved him that much.
My dad was a person who I learned from almost daily and through all of this, I learned yet another important thing — the complexities of love. Not only do I admire my mother’s courage, but I also aspire to have and show the love that she showed my father. To me, it’s a love with no limitations.