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Lessons of love from grandfathers

13.06.2013 11.20
I've got two extraordinary grandfathers, Mauri and Heimo. Mauri passed away already many years ago but he lives in my memories and in my way of living every single day.

Both of these great men have tought me important lessons about a beautiful, true and lasting love. Mauri stayed with his woman, my grandmother Martta, for over sixty years. And Heimo stayed with his spouse, Mirjam, for over 30 years. These two couples shared a love that lasted until they were separated by death.

Mauri and Martta's love story began during the war with Mauri's self made gifts for Martta and the two of them secretly going to dance together. Their relationship faced many ups and downs, children and grandchildren along the way. The ultimate test for the love and bond between them was when at the age of 75 Martta had a stroke and was in hospital for months never being able to speak or move properly again.

Mauri was used to Martta taking care of everything at home; he had never cooked in his life, or done any other domestic work for that matter, so he found himself in a challenging situation. After a couple of months of microwave meals, Mauri took a cookbook in his hands and started learning. Over the next months I was proud to see how well he was learning to take care of their home and produce delicious meals for himself and his beloved wife. And all this at the age of 75! This man showed me it's never too late if a man sets himself to learn something and take action.

Mauri took care of  Martta for about seven years. She had the stroke a couple more times and was on and off in hospital. Mauri went to see her every day bringing her food and helping her to eat and every time he left the hospital he kissed her.

The fourth time Martta had a stroke, she died. She literally fell asleep in Mauri's arms at their home one evening. I think that's the most beautiful way any woman could die; in the arms of her loving man. Mauri was grief-stricken and lost his will to go on the moment he lost his dear wife after over sixty years of being together. In a month or so he had a heart attack and at the hospital he told me he had felt like Martta had come to get him. I smiled and said she probably did. Mauri died a few days later. It was sad but at the same time I was happy for my dear grandparents who were finally back together.

Their story has taught me so much about great love and true commitment; how you stand by your loved one in good and in bad, in sickness and in health. They were not the "perfect couple", of course they had their problems and arguments. But the extraordinary thing they had was the great love and strong commitment.

Also my other grandfather, Heimo, had strong commitment and an incredible amount of love for his spouse Mirjam.  The two met when they were already middle aged, both of them had experienced marriages and had children. They fell in love and kind of started living again after the disappointments of the past. Their love story lasted for over thirty years, until Mirjam passed away some time ago.

This couple had the extraordinary skill of making each other feel special and loved. Now that I think about the secret of their long lasting relationship, this skill must have been one of the key elements. Actually this goes for all kinds of relationships; a person is more likely to stay in a relationship where he/she feels special, significant and loved.

The last few years were not easy for them as Mirjam was sick. Heimo had given his word that he would never leave her and would take care of her until the very end. And he did keep his promise. Especially the last months of Mirjam's life, Heimo was in quite a weak condition himself, but he did all he could to take care of her at home and be by her side day and night. I still get tears in my eyes when I think of the stories he told me about how he had cared for her, and when I think of the empty look in his eyes now that she's no longer there.

Words are not enough to describe how much I admire my two grandfathers who had so much love and commitment for their women. These two men had courage and strength. They have taught me what true love is. True love that lasts a lifetime. The kind of love that in today's world probably only a few people will experience. Thank you Mauri and Heimo, you are my heroes.

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