What is love?February 17, 2018
That answer changes throughout a person’s life. And how we show love evolves as we age. It could start simple: like a little baby girl whose face lights up with giggles when she sees her mom or dad. Eventually, it turns into a calming feeling inside: like an elderly man who is content with just sitting next to the woman he loves and saying nothing.
Story by Candy Neal
Photos by Sarah Ann Jump and Marlena Sloss
Love is... playing games.
Pine Ridge Elementary first-grader Ben Cooper’s view of love is sharing similar interests with someone.
The 7-year-old didn’t phrase it that way Wednesday. Instead he talked about his big brother, 16-year-old Gavin.
“I love him a lot,” Ben said. “He is great.”
He loves his brother so much, that he made Gavin a card for Valentine’s Day. The card had hearts on the front and cat stickers inside.
And Ben wrote inside, “I love you, Ben.” That was followed with, “I love cats.”
What makes Gavin so great, according to Ben, is that he shares a similar interest with Ben. “He plays video games with me, all kinds of games,” Ben said. “We’ll play games when I see him after school.”
Ben planned to give Gavin his card when he got home from school Wednesday. He also planned to give his 1-year-old sister a toy and his mother a card he made. Mom’s card was filled with hearts as well.
“They always love everything I give them,” Ben said.
Love is... giving and forgiving.
‘It’s giving, back and forth, back and forth,” said 87-year-old Rose Kilian of Jasper. “You can’t say you love someone if you don’t give a little.”
Rose, who lives at the Northwood Retirement Community, said Wednesday that she and her husband, Norman, had to do a lot of compromising with each other. Norman passed away five years ago.
“He let me have my way sometimes, and I let him have his way sometimes,” she said. “If we were always selfish, we would not have made it.”
Sure, the two had their disagreements, she said. But they always worked them out.
“People need to be willing to give a little,” Rose said. “You can’t do what you want all the time. Sometimes, you have to let the other one win. Love is compromising.”
Love is... showing the one you love affection.
Several students in Brooke Wehr’s first-grade class at Pine Ridge equated love with doing their chores at home.
“Well, sometimes I don’t want to do it,” said 8-year-old Frank Schepers. “But I do, because my mom asks me to. It’s not fun, though.”
Chloe Cabrera said she shows her love to her parents in different ways.
“I clean my room,” the 8-year-old said. “And I hug my mom and give her kisses. She loves those.”
After passing out Valentine cards and treats to classmates Wednesday, Josie Welp, 6, carefully glued pieces of red tissue paper to a heart outlined on a sheet of paper. It was for her mom, she said. On the sheet, she wrote her mom a love note.
“I love my Mommie because she is nice and funny,” she wrote. “She does lots of things for me.”
The Valentines she passed out were made by Josie and her mother, Josie said proudly.
“I have the best mom in the world,” Josie said.
Love is... spending as much time as possible with someone.
That’s how Amos and Mary Ann Schnaus show their love for each other.
“Love is how I feel when I look into your eyes and find all that I need and hope for is there,” Mary Ann, 86, read from a card she received Wednesday from Amos, also 86.
Amos was sitting next to her, listening. Both were seated in wheelchairs at the same table during a Valentine social Wednesday at Northwood Retirement Community. Their wedding album sat on the table in front of them.
The Schnauses have been married since Thanksgiving Day 1953, and have been together as a couple longer than that. But for the last six months, they’ve lived in separate rooms at Northwood, their now permanent residence.
They spend the day together, including mealtimes. But their time together ends each evening when it’s time for bed.
“It’s hard sometimes,” Amos said. “I like to cuddle up with her. But at night we go to our own rooms.” Granted they are only two rooms apart. But that gap is too big, they said.
“I go to my room in the evening and sometimes cry,” Mary Ann said. “I love being with him.”
Mary Ann read a little more, voice cracking some: “Love is the gentle comfort and strength that keeps us balanced throughout those hectic times.”
Both attested that their marriage has had its ups and downs. But through it all, they managed to raise four children on Amos’ farming revenue. They went through Amos’ bouts with cancer — he is in remission — and Mary Ann’s stroke a few months ago. After the stroke, Mary Ann had to move to the nursing home.
“I decided that there wasn’t any reason to stay at home,” Amos said. “My place is here with her.”
For the day of love, Amos gave Mary Ann a huge heart-shaped box of chocolates. He also gave her a card that was actually a Christmas card — he scratched out the Christmas greeting and wrote, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Honey.”
“It says how I feel. So I wanted her to have it,” Amos said. “It’s says it just perfect.”
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