I knew a wonderful woman once. I’ll call her Ruby. She told me that she and her husband “didn’t get married for no great love or nothing like that”. And surprised me by telling me they only got married because she was pregnant.
I was surprised. Surprised she told me. And silly as it sounds, surprised that “that” happened so long ago. If that doesn’t speak to my naitivity….
I have often thought of that comment. And often wondered what she meant by “no great love”.
I knew her well. And I knew they weathered that ‘no great love’ to go from having nothing to owning their own home early. Raising two children through frightening health issues to healthy adulthood. Sticking it out through battles with alcohol. I know when he died there was great sadness and great mourning. And when she died, there was loss of great love.
I think of her often and her story about ‘no great love’. And I think of the stories Ruby and her husband shared with me over the years. The stories that always started with one of them telling it, and the other one laughing. Or one of them telling it, and the other nodding in contemplation as they thought of a time or of people no longer in their lives.
I don’t know what Ruby thought great love was.
Her ‘no great love’ consisted of two people making a commitment together because they created a child. And another child. They worked hard, and I mean hard, to provide a home for the children they loved. They came from homes that didn’t have much, but had love. And they brought that with them in to their home. She packed his lunch every day for work. And when he retired they ate breakfast, lunch and dinner together every day. The first time I heard him bellow “cup of joe Ruby!” I was shocked at what I thought was pretty demanding and bossy behavior.
What did I know?
That ‘no great love’ got him out of bed every day to work a physically grueling job. He worked hard so she could stay home and raise their family. He worked hard to give her a good life. She worked hard at making home…home. She gave to the community by volunteering and giving what they could. He didn’t ask much of her. As a matter of fact, on looking back, I think the only thing I ever heard him ask her for was “cup of joe Ruby!”
He tried to come across as gruff and rough. And if you didn’t know him, he might seem to be just that. But I saw him often and I saw him as he truly was. He was gruff and rough all right. As a teddy bear wearing a grizzly’s fur coat. He loved his family. He saw his duty as providing for them. That was his job. And to do that job he had to be physically imposing, and he was. He had to be strong enough to carry hundreds of pounds on his back, and he was. And strong enough to carry his family, and he was. She was a little thing who would do anything for anyone. She was as strong as he was. His grizzly growl didn’t scare her any. And when she told me stories of his grizzliness, and how she responded through their years of ‘no great love’, he would laugh at the memory of it all. And nod his head in agreement.
I don’t know what she thought great love was. But it wasn’t any better than her ‘no great love’.
We could all do with a little more of her ‘no great love’ in our world.
I miss them and their wonderful and devoted no great love.