Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What's Amore? A Different Kind of Love Story

When the moon hits your eye
Like a big-a pizza pie
That's amore *

In the Greek language of New Testament times there are numerous words for love, such as "eros" (romantic, passionate desire), "philia" (filial or "brotherly" feelings of affection) and "agape" (unconditional love without thought of reward).

Ronald Sider, in his book, "Living Like Jesus," writes about the latter kind of love as modeled by his uncle Jesse Sider of Ontario, Canada. Five years into his marriage, and after the birth of their second daughter, his beloved wife Lydia developed a severe mental illness. Over time, she became increasingly disoriented and unstable and finally lost almost all touch with reality. When it became clear that it was impossible for him to take care of her at home, Lydia was committed to a psychiatric hospital, where she spent most of the rest of her life.

When the world seems to shine
Like you've had too much wine
That's amore *

Jesse faithfully visited her every week, expecting her to eventually get well enough to come home again. But one day her doctor recommended that Jesse simply give up on her and get on with his life. “Your wife is not going to get any better," he said. "I think you should go home, take care of your girls and try to forget about this woman.”

To which Jesse said, “I can’t forget Lydia. She’s a part of me.”

So for over twenty more years he made regular two-hour trips to Hamilton, Ontario, to see the person he had promised to love for better or worse, and until death do them part. Sometimes she seemed to recognize and welcome him, but often he got either no response or a negative one, Lydia having lost all of her former warm emotional feelings.

When the stars make you drool
Joost-a like pasta fazool
That's amore *

Eventually, after the doctors took the radical step of performing a lobotomy on Lydia, she got to briefly be at home again, although things were still extremely difficult.

One day, for the first time in many years, she asked Jesse, “Will you pray for me?” which he eagerly did, as he had often done before. The next day she died of a ruptured appendix, she having been unaware of the problem because her lobotomy had rendered her unable to feel pain in that part of her body.

“Yes, she was a burden,” Jesse said, reflecting on their relationship, "but I never felt it was something I should be relieved of. I loved her, and I did all I could.”

Love is patient, love is kind. 
It always protects, always trusts, 
always hopes, always perseveres.
 That's agape

* "That's Amore" by singer Dean Martin (Number 2 Billboard hit in 1953)
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