One afternoon, when my daughter, Katie, was only ten years old and we were hanging around the house listening to an oldies radio station while doing chores and waiting for Cyndi to come home from whatever exercise class she was teaching at the time, Katie asked, “Daddy, what’s your favorite song?”
I tend to avoid favorite questions because it’s too hard to decide an absolute-of-all-time top favorite, and I knew that whatever I told Katie she would remember forever and bring it up again if I ever mentioned a different song as being my favorite. She had a long memory for things like that, even at ten.
But then, even as we were talking, a familiar song began to play over the radio and I couldn’t believe my luck. Katie said, “What happened? Why did you start smiling?”
I said, “Here you go. This song has been one of my favorites since high school.”
We both listened as Edward Cornelius sang, “My momma told me, she said son please beware. There’s a thing called love and it’s everywhere.”
By now Katie and I were dancing in the living room and I was singing along: “It’s too late to turn back now. I believe, I believe, I believe I’m falling in love. It’s too late to turn back now. I believe, I believe, I believe I’m falling in love.”
Katie was familiar with conversations like this so she asked, “Is that song about you and mom?”
“Aren’t they all?”
I first heard that song in the summer of 1973 while standing beside a school vending machine in Hobbs, New Mexico. I wasn’t in love with anyone at the time so I don’t know why it stuck with me; maybe it was a premonition of the great love in my future that I had yet to discover.
Thanks to our recent 40th Anniversary, I’ve been thinking a lot about being in love; even more than I usually do. It reminded me of another song, recorded by Michael Martin Murphy, about a young man who was getting married and afraid it might not last. His father told him, “You come from a long line of love; when the times get hard we don't give up; forever is in your heart and in your blood; Son you come from a long line of love.”
That’s us. Cyndi and I come from a long line of love, a line given to us by parents and grandparents. I’m grateful, and I don’t take it for granted. So I looked up length of marriages to see the pattern laid out for us:
Cy and Dulcie Simpson: married 44 yrs.
Roy and Pauline Haynes: 49 yrs.
Forrest and Ruby Atchley: 57 yrs.
Deane and Lenelle Simpson: 59 yrs
The curious thing is, our human desire for long-lasting love doesn’t have an evolutionary advantage. It makes us vulnerable, makes us take chances not necessary for survival. The more we love someone, the more we risk, and the people we love most have the greatest opportunity to hurt us the most.
Love means giving your heart away – a great risk. Like ET, whose heart glowed red and showed through his skin when he was emotional, making his physical heart an easy target for anyone who’d cause him harm, our hearts are our weakest most vulnerable assets when full of love. I’ve learned from the comments left on my blog from last week that some people would rather avoid the bother and danger of love. Not me. Long-term love makes my life work. It’s more than worth it.
Besides, we have a long line of family tradition to live up to.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32