Early on my mom taught me what it means to truly love. Each year she’d drag the family to visit her father and his wife in rural Quebec, which for a child of the nineties like me was rough because there was no indoor plumbing or, even worse, cartoons in English. To top it off, these visits were almost always marred by tension and dispute between my family and my step-grandma, who often resented our presence there. Eventually we stopped visiting; my grandfather decided it created too much strain on him and his wife when we came. He is a quiet, gentle man who just didn’t have it in him to fight. Being a child I never thought about how this must have affected my mom, to lose her only living parent not to death but to estrangement. But the story does not end there, because my mom did not give up on her love for her father, succumbing to feelings of anger and betrayal. She decided that even though we were no longer invited guests in their home, she would do whatever she could to see him while respecting his choices. Ever since then she has driven the 6 hours across the border to see him, met him for coffee, and drove the 6 hours back. Sometimes my family goes with her and sometimes we don’t, and I never thought much of it.
Only now do I understand my mother’s love as unconditional because it is what sustains me today. Until recently I was a typical hardworking party-prone college student who only visited home for christmas and laundry season. Then I became very sick with a chronic illness and had to suddenly move back with my parents because I could not take care of myself. I’ve been home for a year and a half, and in many ways it has been like returning to my infancy. My mom mothers me as she did many years ago, cooking and cleaning for me, rubbing my head when I am scared, and crying with me when it all hurts too much. Both of my parents have made sacrifices to get me the best health care, driving up to 13 hours away and missing work. My parents had not expected their fully grown daughter to move back needing constant care and acquiring excessive medical bills. They take care of me this way because they love me, unconditionally. I believe that love does not mean meeting someone halfway, it is meeting them the whole way with no expectation that it will ever be returned. This scares me because it seems unfair, but fair doesnt matter. My grandfather hasn’t visited our home in 10 years and at ninety years old he probably never will, but we love him and we’ll drive the whole way every time. I believe that unconditional love is the most terrifying, beautiful gift you can ever give or receive.
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