The Greatest Love Story

Neha - Bloomingdale, Illinois
Entered on January 17, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

One toasty winter night my grandfather and I took up a game of Bluff and some conversation. The crackling fire behind me comforted my feeling of defeat at cards and I was desperate for some small talk. My grandfather, being the deep thinker and storyteller that he is, asked me if I knew what the greatest love story was. For the first time, I was at lost with words and opinions. “The greatest love story,” he started, pausing for effect. “Is the story of your mother and your father.” Startled, I realized he was completely correct. My parent’s love story had hope, tears, sacrifice, and a tragedy that changed everything. Their story began in India, when they were just childhood friends. They grew up towards each other, slowly falling in love and intertwining like vines. When my mother left India to live abroad in America, she left my uncertain father in India, waiting. In their own way they still loved one another. They wrote love letters to each other across the ocean, refusing to be with other people. When my mother returned to India, they announced their since-then-secret love to everyone and were soon married. My mother whisked my father back to America with her and they gave birth to twins, my sister and I. As a child I grew up spoilt from my parents’ love for each other and for me. My parents and my sister and I were living in what seemed to be a slow dream. Everything was so perfect and pristine, like living in a snow globe. Suddenly in the summer of 2000, my snow globe exploded into a million pieces, the pieces forever embedded in my heart. My mother suffered an abdominal infection and a respiratory condition that lead to a coma. As she held onto her dear life throughout the night my father stayed with her, praying. She was put on life-support and the doctors had only one thing to say, “She’s not going to make it.” While those six words tore me apart, they didn’t shake my father. Refusing to believe them, he kept her on life support. I remember seeing her for the first time, tubes in her throat, arms, and legs. Her once soft skin was slick with sweat and stained yellow. Her limbs were stiff and contorted and the sounds of the machines wheezed and shook around her lifeless body. “Is that mommy?” I asked with my quivering 6 year-old voice. For months after the accident I practically lived at the hospital with my mother and father. The ominous smell and sight of death forever tainted me and instigated my phobia of hospitals. My father took her out of the hospital as soon as he could and brought her home but she would never be the same again. She could move but not walk, hold things, or do anything for that matter. She could make sounds but not speak. No more could she tell me that everything would be all right, and that she loved me so much. My father had become a shadow to me, working to earn the money we needed or providing twenty four hour care for my disabled mother. With years my mother’s condition only improved in that she remembered us and understood what was going on. She became my mother again, trapped in her own body. My father had become a different person all-together. He was my phoenix, rising from the ashes that had burnt him so. He raised my sister and I through pure love and sacrifice. My father gave us everything we wanted and more. People urged my father to put my mother in a good nursing home and remarry, to provide a mother to my sister and I and put his life at ease. Still my father refused, disgusted at the thought. He wouldn’t allow others to take care of her. So he fed her every night, helped her stand up, gave her a shower, and started to work at home for her. His brave actions and devotion brought the iron fist of my family, my grandfather, to tears. However I never once saw my father cry. I sobbed in his arms night after night, missing my mother but never seeing the tears from his own eyes fall. Years after and everyone still tells me, “The sacrifices your father has made for his wife and children…No other man has ever done.” Tears on my cheeks still remain when my grandfather’s story is over. That night I stood by my parents’ door, listening as my father talked to her while he fed her dinner. There was a moment when their eyes met, small smiles on their faces. My father held her tender face in his warm, rough hands and my mother’s eyes filled with a spark and twinkle I hadn’t seen since my childhood. Tears re-staining my cheeks and throat closing up, I watched them stare into each others eyes. The greatest love story is that of my mother and father, this i believe.