Love. . . .Ah! Just saying the word puts a smile on my face. I mean, everyone wants to be in love and loved back.

Yes, being loved back is a really important part of this love thing. I was in love with Sean Connery for decades, but he never so much as replied to one of my letters.

We know that animals love and are loyal, a great thing. Watch a set of doves if you want to feel all’s right with the world. When you are in love you can feel it, smell it, taste it. It’s all you can think about, until you tame it.

If there were really such a thing as “love dust,” it would be great. Instead of dropping bombs we could just sprinkle the war arena with love dust. That would have to be some potent stuff! 

So just what is love? I checked with some experts. Burt Lancaster in his memorable role in “Elmer Gantry” said,  And what is love? Love is the voice of music. Love is the morning and the evening star!”

Poet Emily Dickenson told us that the emotion of love is the supreme feeling in life. The realization of love gives us heavenly satisfaction. “Love is evergreen and does not expire with the passage of time. Love is life which unites us.”

“Love is part of life, and without it, life is barren and useless,” wrote John Donne Dunne. One of my favorite writers, C. S. Lewis, said, “Love is not just an affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.”

And here is another big gun: William Shakespeare wrote in his Sonnet 116: ”Love is not love / Which alters when its alteration finds / Or bends with the remover to remove. /O no! It is an ever-fixed mark / That looks on tempests and is never shaken.”

They all sound good, sure. But, really, what is love?  If there was a 100% always-happy marriage recipe, it would be a top seller, but the recipe is different with each couple because each couple is different.

On Saturday, August 20, my youngest granddaughter, Jessica McPherson and her fiancé, Ricky Abejula, were married in a beautiful ceremony held at Lavender Farms. Of course, it was perfect. As the only living grandparent on my side of the family, I have felt a special weight about my duties.

I had been asked to write a letter for her wedding book, do a blessing during the ceremony and ,of course, a toast. You can see why marriage and love have been much on my mind as of late.

This is part of what I wrote: ”I feel like I should give you some grandmotherly advice besides to always wear clean underwear, which is what my mother told me. There can be nothing better in the world than being married, or nothing worse than being married…and that can be all in the same day.

“Love bears all things ( yup, all). Three words will take you far: Let it go–so easy to say and at times so hard to do, but to make it in a marriage you have to. Being right is just not that important; it is the love that matters, not a scorecard.

“Be each other’s warrior, the person the other person can always depend on. Be generous with your love, your patience, your understanding, your laughter, your sympathy, your encouragement with your entire self, mind, body and soul. There are no perfect people, and there is no perfect marriage, but you can strive for that. And if you fail, there is always another day.

“I know some truly amazing married couples in our Central Valley, with solid, strong, happy marriages of many years, people that I admire and envy. These couples seem to have not only affection for each other, but respect. They sort of define love in action.

“I was married for 30 years to Ron before his death almost 12 years ago. It was a hard journey to make with a person you love, to be sure, and give all of yourself to him as you are slowly losing him. It was the hardest year of my life, but I am proud that I was able to see my love until his final breath.

“And my last words to my first husband, from  whom I had been divorced for 40 years, a few days before his death, were ‘I love you,’ to which he softly replied, ‘I love you too, Diana.’ After the storm that follows a divorce, we’d found friendship, plus when you love someone, a part of that love sticks with you, whether you want it to or not.

“Love endures all things. This I believe to be true. I had thought foolishly that all loves and marriages followed the same path. Silly me. To be sure, they all have their own road to travel. You try your best. You grieve, and get yourself back up because you can. Never give up on love.

“So, what is love, Jessica? It is the greatest roller coaster in the world, so hold on tight to each other, and enjoy both the ups and downs. Oh, the wonders you two will see, the magic you will feel. You are going to have a wonderful life filled with what matters more than anything in the world…LOVE!”

Diana J. Ingram

Diana Ingram has been a columnist for Los Banos newspapers for four decades.