Unconditional Love…Lessons from Sweetie
Have you ever met someone so full of grace and selfless love that in spite of their own hardships or physical discomforts they think of others first? Someone who lives life based on faith and love of their Creator not for recognition but because it’s in their soul? It’s a rare and beautiful gift to know someone like this; my friend Sweetie (Carole) is that person; a gift to so many.
I met Sweetie last year when her daughter Leslie married my brother in law Robert in the backyard of their lake house overlooking Lake Erie. Feeling overwhelmed in a sea of strangers she reached for my hand never letting go as we talked. Her smile lit up the room and made its way into my heart. As we talked sharing our life stories, her eyes never left mine; I mattered. Welcoming my family into hers wasn’t something she did out of duty rather out of love. There are no conditions on her love; it is who she is. During that weekend my conversations with Sweetie, left me wanting to know her more. Her bigger than life laugh, sweet smile, loving eyes and generous spirit is genuine, not forced but sincere. As I watched from a quiet corner of the room that first night I knew that Sweetie was a special lady. Her children adore her, caring for and steadying her as she slowly made her way across the room. Her steps are slow due to Parkinson’s disease but her smile never fades. Never alone; someone always by her side. From my view it was evident that they were there not out of duty rather they wanted to be there; they needed to be there. She was and is a grounding force in their lives, a beacon of strength and light in an often chaotic and busy world.
It became evident that Sweetie is a woman who loves with her whole heart. I found myself wondering how I could be like that knowing that I place reserves on my heart; guarding it for safety, fearing hurt or disappointment. Somewhere deep within I knew that in order to have the kind of peace that fills my heart with what Sweetie calls “the good stuff” I had to break down the barriers and allow life and love to take over. With Lake Erie in the rearview mirror our journey home was filled with memories where two families blended into one and a promise of staying connected and seeing one another soon.
I have kept in touch with my extended siblings since, always asking about my new friend. Having become particularly close with her son Mike, our conversations about his beloved momma have revealed a lot about the life she has lived and who she really is; the example her family has learned to live by. My sister in love, Leslie shared that her mother grew up an only child. The myth that only children are self-centered and spoiled is completely shattered when it comes to Sweetie. A devoted wife of 55 years to her husband Dizzy (Robert) and mother to seven wonderful children Sweetie shares her love of God living her life faithfully never putting herself first. An example of how I believe our Creator meant for us to live.
I had the privilege of spending a few hours with Sweetie and Dizzy in their home last weekend. Greeting me with a warm embrace we took a seat on the sofa and once again she took my hand in hers; it stayed there for a long time. We were wrapped up in conversation as if we’ve known one another longer than a few months. As a few of her children arrived each were greeted by the same warm embrace I had experienced. For Sweetie love is a way of life. It is real; unconditional. As we prepared to leave, Sweetie and I posed for a quick picture to commemorate the afternoon we shared together. I framed our picture and sent it to her with a note of thanks for her kindness and love. Sweetie called to thank me for her gift sharing that what made our picture special was that it was not staged to be pretty it was just real; simple love. It’s beautiful.
I share the words of some of her children whom she raised with deep faith in God and love who now live their lives by her example. I honor my new friend not only with written words, but with the promise that I will strive to be an example for those with whom I share my life; my husband, my children, my family, my friends, my world.
“Mom is truly my best friend! She has an unconditional love for me and really understands me. Her faith and her relationship with God is such an inspiration and she lives her faith every day! God kissed a special pebble we call Sweetie and tossed her in a calm pond and it resulted in endless circles, each one representing a life she has touched and made better! God knew he could count on Sweetie to make this world a better place!” ~Leslie
“Sweetie has lived her life always putting others first. Her faith, unselfishness and genuine care for others is the foundation of my own faith.” ~Bob
“Sweetie is a living example of Christ’s love! She has lived her whole life that way! She is the most loving, giving, positive, faith filled person that you will ever meet. I talk to her every morning on the phone on my way to work. She thinks I am calling to brighten her day, in reality it is just the opposite. She is my vitamin S!! Love her so much! “ ~Julie
“My Mom’s relationship with God is an inspiration to all that know her. She has an “Old World” faith that drives her life, not just goes along for the ride.” ~George
“Mom is a shining example of unselfishness and love and how if you use those qualities in life and prefer to give than to receive, you will be most happy. She does nothing but give of herself and has taught me what being a mother is all about. I treasure her and thank God I can call her my mom every day.” ~Meg
“How do you even begin to put into words the essence of my being, the fiber of my sole, and perhaps one of the greatest people to ever live? Sweetie is quite simply amazing. Sweetie is an ingredient that could make anyone in life better. She is the definition of not just love, but selfless love. She suffers silently with Parkinson’s which was diagnosed over 10 years ago. I say silently, because she has never complained ever about why me, about the tremors, or the forgetfulness. She has accepted it with utter grace, and a blessing. She offers her suffering up as a sacrifice, and realizes others have it worse than she does. She reminds me of mother Theresa, or one of those great people that when you meet them, you realize that you have met someone unlike anyone else in your life who not only accepts you for who you are, and without judgment, but also celebrates you. She is an exceptional grandmother; fun. Best of all, her sole focus for all of us in her life is to help us get to heaven. She lives by the 3 F’s. Faith, Family, Friends. You can’t have enough of either. When you meet Sweetie, you have met Jesus, and you have seen love.” ~Mike
I am proud to introduce a new column to Madame Deals! I think we all need a touch point a place we can go to be inspired. Karla is my children’s teacher, a good friend, and a person with a heart of gold. I hope that her words will inspire you to do more. We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. It is important to listen with your heart and proceed with your eyes open. Enjoy!
Check out Karla’s 24 Day Advocare Challenge updates!