People blame dating apps for the bad behaviour we see on the dating scene today, but scoundrels have been around since the prehistoric era.
The year was 1959. Maureen had been engaged to marry John, but while serving in the air force, John had decided to pull a disappearing act. Or ghosted, as the term is now. He may not have been swiping elsewhere on Tinder, but shady behaviour has always been present.
It was Friday evening. Maureen went to visit John’s parents. John’s parents liked Maureen. She was petite and beautiful, with a heart of pure gold. What parents wouldn’t want their son to marry her? They expressed their condolences.
Music began playing from elsewhere in the house. An upbeat, jazzy tune with a strong beat. The music was strangely uplifting. Maureen asked where the music was coming from. John’s mother informed her John’s brother, Douglas, was part of a skiffle group, who practiced at their house every Friday evening.
Maureen was inexplicably drawn to the music, and she had no other plans that evening, so she decided to go and watch for a while. In the band, there was a singer, a tea chest bass player, a drummer, a guitarist, and a banjo player. The banjo player was a tall man with sandy blonde hair and a slightly crooked nose. Out of nowhere, Maureen felt a jolt in her stomach.
She went back to the kitchen to say goodbye to John’s parents and headed outside.
“Do you need a lift home?”
It was the tall, sandy-haired banjo player with the slightly crooked nose.
Maureen knew she wasn’t meant to accept lifts home from strangers, but something about his calm tone and sparkling blue eyes put her at ease.
He said his name was Roger. He talked about his band, and told her she should come and watch them play again next week.
So she did. And Roger gave her a life home again. And the next week. And the next.
Soon, Maureen and Roger realised they had a connection that was more than friendship, and the rest was history.
They got married the following summer, under the golden sunshine. Maureen and Roger were popular, and people came from far and wide to watch them say their vows.
They had three children. All three married young, and there were five grandchildren in total.
Time passed. Roger and Maureen celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. It was a low-key affair in the back garden, but family and friends came from far and wide to celebrate.
Roger was diagnosed with skin cancer. People in the family had had the condition before and recovered. Everyone thought it would pass. But Roger reacted badly to the chemotherapy, and was rushed into hospital. Within a few days, he was dead.
The funeral was held in the local church. Friends and family from all around poured in. The vicar, who was close friend of the couple, gave a speech. He talked about Roger’s work, his industrious nature, his contributions to the church, his friends. But the centre of his life was always family. And the epicentre of that was always Maureen.
I don’t get upset about death the way others do. I believe we all have a finite amount of life on this planet, then we must move on to make space for new people. If you experience 74 years of life, you are one of the lucky ones. If you experience 50 years of love, you are one of the lucky ones. If you experience 22 years of life with your grandparents, especially with grandparents like Roger, you are one of the lucky ones.
There are many forms of love. Platonic love; the relationships you have with your friends. Then, romantic relationships. Relationships that are red. A blaze of fire, then down in flames. Relationships that are black. The ones with toxic people that are doomed from the start. But true love is golden. Perhaps it’s love at first sight; perhaps it’s a slow burn. Perhaps the initial spark of sexual attraction fades with time, but what remains is an unconditional care and affection, and a desire to make that person happy. Like sunshine, it uplifts you; never puts your down or makes you feel sad. The extension of this love, of course, is family. The branches that spurt out from the tree. Of course, this love is not sexual in nature. But the same unconditional love exists, in the way that it does not elsewhere.
I’ve experienced the bad forms of love in romance. The ones that never quite felt the same for me as I did for them. I’ve experienced the bad forms of platonic love. The friends that dropped me the minute they started dating someone, the ones who made me their scapegoat, the ones who faded out for no reason at all. But the unconditional love from family, has always been in my life. Growing up, I realised I was one of the lucky ones as not everyone has this love. And the root of that love, was Roger and Maureen. The man who taught me what marriage meant. The grandma who gave up her job to look after her grandchildren so her daughter could further her career. The treasure hunts on family holidays. How my grandmother is not a rich woman, but she told my pregnant cousin to pick any pram she wanted, even the most expensive pram in the shop, and she would pay.
This is why no matter how bleak the dating market looks, you must never give up on love. Because that golden love is out there. But don’t forget about the other form of love. The branches from the tree, and the trunk you came from. Because we all have a finite time on this planet. And that love is golden.