I sent my Mom a text message this morning, wishing her a Happy Valentine's Day and reassuring her that I was not in fact dead just because I hadn't gotten in touch with her yesterday. She responded with a (virtual) sigh of relief and with a message saying that she had just left the personal care home, where she had given my 92-year-old paternal grandmother a bath and set her hair in curlers. Despite the lack of biological ties, and despite the fact that my Dad has been gone for over three years, my Mom still takes care of my grandmother as lovingly and devotedly as she would her own mother*.
The message from my Mom seemed a timely reminder, on this day when romantic love is celebrated above all else, of just how many forms love can take. Love isn't all about grand gestures from one's significant other; it's also about a grieving widow rinsing the shampoo from her mother-in-law's thinning hair. And if we focus only on the romantic part of love, then we miss out on these subtler, but equally important, manifestations of love that are all around us.
*My Mom's mother is thousands of kilometers away and therefore not as easy for my Mom to care for on a regular basis.