Remember the song…’Hello young lovers, wherever you are….? Young love; oh, how we fantasize about it! Maybe we have experienced it, or maybe we wish we had; or maybe we know someone else who has. It’s the ultimate fairytale…a young man and a young woman in love, beautiful, handsome, a prince and princess dreaming about each other, going through trials and tribulations to be together. We love songs about young love…and movies, and books; but how many of us have truly lived anything close to the ballads, movies, books or fairytales about love?
I recently came across some love letters written by my parents; not a lot of letters, just a few written during a brief period of some months during World War II. We never equate young love with our parents; they are Mom and Dad; frumpy, old (yikes!), not cool or romantic, just….Mom and Dad. My sister, who passed the letters on to me, wouldn’t read them because she felt like she was intruding on them somehow…., even though they have both been gone for several years now. I, on the other hand, had no problem reading them. I was curious to see what they had to say to one another, but I found more than I had expected.
I found…two young people in love. Now, I knew my parents loved one another, but who ever thinks about them being a young man and a young woman, let alone a young man and woman in love with one another! Do you ever think about your parents as young people; or ever picture them together romantically? Do you ever truly think about them before the days of diapers, dinners, housecleaning, budgets, laundry, arguments, hectic days of running to and from one school function to another, family vacations, relatives visiting, holidays, or when they were Grandma and Grandpa? They were always doing what Mom and Dad always did (or being grandparents to your little ones and you were sure they never had to deal with the things that you had to deal with in your home), whatever that might have been; but never do we think of them from the point of view of that cute boy in the cafeteria, or in our English class, or that girl we saw at the game last night.
We never think about them on their first date, young, nervous. No, we thought they couldn’t understand when we were pining over some boy or girl who had rejected us, or didn’t notice us. How could they ever understand how we felt about anything? Yet….somewhere long ago, in a land far, far away; Mom and Dad were young people just getting to know each other; just trying to start up a conversation with each other, watching each other walking down the hallway, or the street, or talking with groups of other young people. Once upon a time, they were cool, they were pretty or handsome. Once upon a time they were popular, or surrounded by other young people who liked them and planned fun things to do with them. They went to the movies, or to a dance, yelled at a football game in the midst of a crowd of high school kids just like them. Even when we see photographs that show them to us when they were young, like we were once, it doesn’t really click in our brains. We laugh and say how funny they looked.
But, reading those letters, few as they are, I was able to get a glimpse of my parents before they were parents; when they were a young, married couple separated by a terrible war and yearning for the day when they would be together again. It was like looking through a very small window into the past, and I saw them as I have never seen them before; and I felt privileged to see this short story about them…before there ever was a me.
Now, I am old and my children look at me and just see… Mom. My youngest son, especially, finds it funny that I am writing a blog; that I have a twitter account. My middle son thinks it funny that his white haired mother goes on cruises with her sisters; three funny old ladies out seeing the world. To them, I have never been young. They cannot imagine it, but it is the natural order of things. First we are young, learning about the world around us; then we start thinking about being adults (and we can’t wait to grow up), then we are adults, fall in love, get married and suddenly life closes in and we are dealing with doing all the necessary things of life and lose all our cool. Our fairytale has ended and we are just Mom or Dad. One day they, too, will be just Mom or just Dad; in fact it has already begun for them, but they are still at the stage of their lives when they don’t yet realize….they have lost their cool. Now…they are coming into the place where they have always seen me to be, and, as of yet, they don’t even know it.