I adapt my summer fitness schedule on weight training days by arriving at the gym no later than 7:45 am to beat all the high school and college kids that pour in later. There’s a calming peacefulness in sharing gym space with a quiet group of folks seriously dedicated to maintaining their health. This summer a young couple have caught my eye. Not due to any trendy tight fitting outfits or the rigorousness nature of their workout. No, you see, it’s obvious that these two are so in love. They walk around slowly trading turns on each machine and hardly ever do they stop making eye contact. Scientists now explain that intense eye contact with the opposite sex produces a cocktail of chemicals that coincide with falling in love. Some say the whole process is almost addictive once you make that intimate connection. So, these two, both short in stature accentuating their “kid” look, go from machine to machine rarely speaking. Just gazing into each other’s eyes with an occasional shoulder touch as they trade places.
I continue my work out, happy to observe this moment in time wondering where the path these two are on will lead. The experience caused a flash back to one of my first classes in college. I was sitting in Freshman Biology in this enormous auditorium waiting for the class to begin when this long lanky girl made her way down my row. I glanced over once and then continued my discussion with a friend seated to my left. The girl then sat in the seat to my right and I was introduced to her by my friend. She’d gone to my high school, but we’d never met. But when I turned to address her I was hit with these enormous brown eyes and was momentarily speechless. As our eyes met, I’d be willing to bet that those chemicals I mentioned were free flowing in both of us. Love at first sight? Maybe, but I always label it infatuation until those feelings become mutual.
In the ensuing months that girl and I spent most waking hours together and it really didn’t matter what we were doing. Eating a burger in my Chevy, dissecting a fetal pig in Bio lab, or talking on the phone (landline of course) after a date until one of us fell asleep. My whole life revolved around finishing studies or work, so I could once again stare into those eyes. And it was mutual.
Before my son’s marriage a few years ago I mentioned how he and the “bride to be” seemed so in love. My then wife’s comment? “Yes, but that’s just young love”. It was one of many worrisome comments I kept shoving to the back of my mind.
I was fortunate to flow down from a family tree built with a strong moral foundation of spouses who certainly experienced “young love” but worked hard to let their love grow and mature over the decades. My parents each had traits that could drive the other crazy, but I watched them both exhibit unconditional love until the end.
My Mom could be a handful at times, but during Dad’s last Christmas on Earth and in the final stages of Alzheimer’s, he sensed that presents were being wrapped and Christmas was near. He mumbled to a daughter to bring him a pen. He had an unusual habit that, in addition to physical gifts, he would give her a check, so she might purchase exactly what she needed.
My Grandmother loved her husband till he passed, even though he’d had a drinking problem for decades. She never gave up on him and he finally broke that habit. With all his problems, he loved and provided for her. Divorce was never considered.
Merely staying together isn’t the goal. Loving support is. One husband in Houston was suffering from congestive heart failure. We all knew the end was approaching for this affable loving man. His wife sat with him his last evening. Only one friend was there to offer support to the wife. The husband was gasping in agony for breath. The cardiologist advised that he be given massive doses of morphine along with a sedative. Her friend later told me she was shocked when the wife indicated she was going home. I’m certainly not passing judgement as we all must act on our own feelings, but spouses must always be there for one another.
For now, I’ll just continue my morning workouts and observe these quiet two love birds as they go through their routine and be thankful that I had the same experience in my youth. If you find that person, whatever your age and you realize that looking into their eyes makes you forget where you are, be thankful. If it’s your spouse, then continue to love them with all their faults. If you’re unattached, then jump on that “merry-go-round” one more time and savor the ride.