by Jane Miller
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! It is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me prov’d,
I never writ, not no man ever lov’d.
Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare, first published with the other 153 sonnets in 1609, attempts to put into words that which defies the laws of semantics.
True love is defined by what it is not. It does not alter or change if circumstances change. It has the bright permanence of a lighthouse or a star guiding us through the stormy seas of life, leading us safely home.
Love is not bound by time, cannot be measured, and will last till the end. Enduring past the limits of the physical world.
How do I know this? One, because I am an English teacher. And two, I was a witness to just such a love.
Today is the wedding anniversary of my parents, Richard Oliver Miller and Florence Henry. They fell in love when Dad returned from England after World War II.
Their love endured the trials and tribulations of raising four children, Dad going to college three times for three degrees from three universities, 27 years in the Air Force, Korea … Vietnam.
My mother is the greatest woman I have ever known. The description in her high school yearbook will fit her forever but does not begin to touch on the strength, compassion, and courage that existed in her tiny frame. Irish to her core, a true matriarch in a society and family governed by women since pre-Celtic times. She was in turn fierce, demanding, protective, and loving. So loving.
She expected the best of us and for us. Dad may have asked us at the dinner table each evening, “So, what have you done to justify your existence today?” But it was Mom who pushed me. To sit up straight. To love without conditions. To look my best because I was representing my family and myself to the world. To do my best. To persevere through life’s struggles because that’s just what one does. I have tried to teach my sons these lessons.
Dad taught me responsibility and keeping my word. Do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, the way it needs to be done. Neat as a pin, he kept the cleanest garage and hangar of anyone I have ever seen. Not everyone can carpet their garage and make it work. Dad did.
And he taught me the value of old goofy songs sung loudly and off-key, of a good joke, of sayings that my sons still use.
They both taught me what love is. And what it is not. “True love” is a misnomer. “Love” that is not true is not love. They were true to each other. They understood each other. They lived for each other. They valued each other. Partners always.
Love is what you take with you, and what you leave behind. It’s what lasts.
Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad. Leave the backdoor unlocked for me.