by Anton Wills-Eve
a heart wrenching memory can be the only real epitome of love
As I grew up I always knew that everything I wanted in the girl I loved would have to be exactly as I imagined the epitome of my putative wife. From early, wondering years of innocence, yes even then when I was only ten, for my life-long lover to mean to me and I to she, everything I desired. I knew I could not live with any girl who lacked the following four outstanding qualities.
For a start, I was certain I could not live with someone who never smiled or laughed and, being vain, especially laughed at me. I mean of course in the sense that she should share my sense of humour and fun so that everything we might enjoy we might enjoy as one. I had such a tiny space for shared virtues in that partition of my mental world; there could never be room for more than two of us at once. Well not for another goddess-lover anyway because of my imagined lover’s second requisite quality. She had to be somebody, and this I think I knew beyond doubt when only fifteen, to whom I would want to be always faithful. And she always true to me. I wanted someone I could place upon a pedestal and to whom my wedding vows of love and constancy would not just be words, but the sincerest feelings I had ever felt. Promises that, were I to break them, I might as well have taken a cleaver to my heart, almost smote it in twain with all the strength I had.
Then her third necessary adjunct to her humanity would have had to be the depth of her love for me. How selfish can a man become when all he can see throughout his life is being worshipped and adored by his wife? But I also had a safety valve for this particular emotion, this necessary quality in the object of my devotion. It was this. If ever I should stumble, trip or fall and for a few moments gaze upon another girl. Then, should the wife that I had chosen, out of despair, disappointment, sadness or for whatever reason, take her revenge by similarly deceiving me I would totally and unconditionally forgive her. Providing she never asked me to confront the object of any brief and physical desire, I would absolve her, never query, question ask or threaten her. Just forgive. I could live with such a normal human thing. I could forgive, but only if I realised I too had been capable of setting her aside for the same reason, the same very short season and one that I could know would never last. Indeed, that I would have to know had already passed.
Her fourth quality? I am surprised you have not wondered, well you have not, have you? Why I have not included the beauty of her looks, her personality or her physical attributes. You know, they would mean nothing to me. I firmly believed this from my late teen years as so many girls of beauty, normality, shyness or vivacity had all seemed so alike to me. No, the other thing I knew she would have to have would be a deep and gentle love for her fellow men. In short she would have to come to me unburdened with any type of prejudice arising out of unreasonable hatred or dislike for others. I was sure I would place that quality above any fair features in her face or figure. I could only hold her really close and really love her, if I knew that she loved all humanity as much as I did too. So did I ever find her, this paragon? Or was she just a fairy dream?
Oh, I found her once. Then twice, then thrice and am settled now with my fourth wife. But every time the severance I had to undergo was due to the ending of her human life, and each widowing hurt me unbearably. But were they all the epitome of all those qualities I so innocently insisted I could not live without? Yes, of course, they each predominantly had one. My first brief Italian love loved me so much she would have given me up rather than fail in her duty to her suffering family. Lucia, of the four, was the closest to a saint in her love of others. My second, my deepest love, was in Vietnam. Anh, gave her life to nursing the destitute and in her way gave me the strongest reason to pray for another human being. She and my baby daughter were killed in a war, it tore the heart out of me. Of all my loves she was the epitome of selflessly devoting every second of her life to me. She left me the softest smile I ever craved.
My third wife Anne, left suddenly of a cardiac disease. Ours was the briefest, oddest joining of two people. Before she died so suddenly she was the cause and the epitome of total forgiveness between two normal, morally fragile human beings. Her parting present in atonement, one for one, was my eldest son. Lucia ‘s gift was twin daughters, their families still and always a part of me, though living many lands away. Anh offers me herself every day with memories of our lovely little girl. And finally my fourth, my longest, my most enduring love is still the epitome of everything that cheers, shares laughter and loves how much she loves loving me. Her gift is my last and youngest son. The epitome of any happy union with anyone.