Here’s a question: Do we only truly love those by whom we feel loved or can we love without expecting a return? (Forget about unrequited young love from afar, I don’t believe there’s much substance to that, but you may, of course, think differently, particularly if you follow some of the greatest poets both in antiquity such as Ovid and Dante and more recently, Goethe, not to mention modern popular music.
I was thinking of love because of Millie, of all things. Remembering Beloved, with whom I was both in love as well as loving him deeply, unquestioningly I thought at the time of our lives together, I now think that the fact that he loved me as deeply did no harm to our close and harmonious relationship. Many of you use blogposts to describe how warmly you are enmeshed with your families, children and grandchildren. Long may it continue and may you never be disappointed. That kind of relationship needs work, tolerance and understanding each other’s needs and preferences. My own family is not as successful at this as yours.
But back to Millie, she had a serious stroke the other evening. She has recovered now, at the time I thought the end had come. While I sat comforting and nursing her for the many hours it took for her to return to a more stable condition I realised, by and by, that with her death the last common link with Beloved would disappear too and that there would be nobody left by whom I would be loved unconditionally. I am not comparing the love of an animal to the love of a human being but, in my opinion, it comes at least halfway up the scale. I have more affection for animals than some humans.
Quite definitely we feel affection for good friends. But here too the fondness must be returned. For how long can you be friends with someone who ignores you, behaves in an off-hand manner or treats you badly when it suits them. Some people are natural door mats but I’d hope you are not among their number. If your friend refuses to accept your friendship in the spirit in which it is offered, change your friend.
We can, of course, grow fond of those whom we employ. Old gardener has worked for me for many years, we toiled together, sat and chatted (me listening to him more than the other way round since he became deaf), we got tired together, drank tea, admired the results of our labours, gossiped, sniped at others; in other words, we were on very friendly terms and I was very fond of him. And now my dear Austin, Old Gardener, will garden no more. He is very ill, his strength gone, his good humour vanished. He is in the clutches of a pair of nasty cancers, neither treatable; I shall miss him and his penchant for indiscreet gossip as well as his pleasure in telling long stories about life in the bad old rural days. I am not sure that Austin was as fond of me as I was of him but that doesn’t seem to matter in this case. It matters very much more in the case of Paul, whom I have also mentioned here several times in the past. Paul is back with me for the time being. I doubt that Paul is fond of anyone, maybe his mother, but no one else. He is a serious depressive and that depression allows him no room for anyone else but himself. I am sorry for Paul but I am not fond of him. I need a return which he is at the moment unable to give.