“If you wilt but stay as beautiful as you are today. I will love you forever,” the king told his queen.
“And who shall judge my beauty?” she inquired of the king.
“Why I shall, of course,” was the reply.
“Will your standards for beauty change as you age?” she asked coquettishly.
“No!” he thundered.
And she wondered if the rewards of queenship were worth what lay ahead.
That passage is not from any story I am familiar with, but it is said in a variety of situations and with a variety of words day after day after day.
Unconditional love does not use the word “If”. Near on 60 years ago there was a man who showed me what unconditional love for a woman looked like. My grandparents were making one of their rare visits to our home. Both Grandma and Grandpa were in the living room with me when Grandma got up and left to go help my mom in the kitchen. As she left the room, Grandpa turned to me and said, “There goes the most beautiful woman in the world!”
I’d always thought of my grandparents as old, although in the little story above they were probably around the age I am now (and of course I’m not old!). To my young eyes Grandma did not have any of the attributes the magazine ads and TV touted as beautiful, but in Grandpa’s eyes she was and always had been from the moment he met her, the most beautiful woman in the world.
Their love story was just as beautiful. They’d never told it to their children, but one winter afternoon in the late 1960’s when two of my cousins and I were exploring the attic with them, the Romantic (Grandpa) told us the story. We sat still, drinking in the tale we’d never heard before and loving every detail. It was so much better than the story we’d been hearing all our lives – “I couldn’t teach her math so I had to marry her.” He told about the “pursuit,” the proposal, the acceptance and the unconditional love. Ahhhh, yes, that special love that does not fade. It’s not found by everyone, but when it comes, grab hold with both hands and toss the word “if” from your vocabulary!