Real Love Never Dies

    I’ve been dreading this week for 365 days. That’s because on Feb. 15 last year, I lost my mom, my first best friend, the one who was always there for me, the only person I could talk with about anything and everything with unconditional love and without judgment.
    My beloved grandmother couldn’t take being without her and left this world to join her in the next one on April 7. I also lost a close friend on Feb. 11 last year. So to say the last 52 weeks have been a bummer would be a sad understatement.
    That’s a good thing, in many ways. After all, it only hurts when they’re gone because we had such a good thing when they were here. I’m just now able to think of them all without becoming overly emotional, with smiles from happy memories finally replacing the tears from them no longer being here with me.
    Kind folks who have gone through this before told me the first year would be tough, as the anniversary of every special event makes our loved one’s absence feel larger than life, but eventually it would get better. They were right. So I adopted new moms, spent time with family and tried to move forward.
    I’ve talked with many people who wish they could see a late family member one more time, just to be able to say goodbye. I’m blessed that I was able to have those conversations with both my mom and grandma. Literally the last words they ever told me were, “I love you,” said convincingly and with feeling.
    That, my friends, is a legacy that will last. Long after you forget about birthday cards with cash and Christmas presents, the love you share will linger on.
    I was reminded of this while looking through some of my mom’s things last year. I found some old photos and newspaper clippings she gathered more than a decade ago. That wasn’t the most interesting part; what I was drawn to was the words written in my mom’s familiar cursive script across the top of the folder.
    “For MFS (mom always called me ‘My Favorite Son,’ which was a lot nicer than just calling me her only son), who has made me more proud than words could ever say. For all you are and all you do, I love you immensely. Love forever, Mom”
    Plenty of water leaked from my eyes upon discovering that. But today, I smile. Broadly. Because my favorite memories of the two women who raised me simply can be summed up in one word – love.
    When I made straight A’s, they loved me. When I made an F, that didn’t change. When I was named a baseball All-Star, they loved me. When I struck out three times, they hugged me even tighter. They loved me when I worked in construction, and they loved me when I got my first job in journalism. Nothing ever changed that, and nothing ever will.
    “Love never fails,” the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:8, and my mom and grandma never failed me. That means it’s my turn to make sure my children know they are worthy of all the love I can give them – and so much more.
    The Beatles had it right when they sang, “And in the end / the love you take / is equal to the love you make.” So love your family. Love your friends. When it’s your time to go, all that love will be far more powerful than anything in a will.
    This Valentine’s Day, I celebrate the two women who taught me how to love.
    David Brown is publisher of the Cherokee Scout. You can reach him by phone, 837-5122; fax, 837-5832; and email,; plus follow him on Twitter @daviddBstroh.