When I married RFC my mother, Dora Braun, barely spoke English and so it happened that she referred to my spouse as her “son in love” rather than son in law. When I attempted to correct her she simply pointed out that the law had nothing to do with it. “Love not law is what brought you together,” she proclaimed.
As time went on I was blessed with numerous “In Loves” and I came to realize that the love that brought them into my life is special and can even last beyond legal divorces.
Since my own divorce, decades ago, I have spent Easter with Eric, my oldest child and his family. That feast, being a moveable one, sometimes falls close to April Fools Day, their son Alex’s birthday.
Oma, (Mutti) used to refer to that part of our family as The Holy Family because of her deep admiration for the incredible patience Eric and Mary displayed as parents and the deep compassion they shared for and with each other. Over the years both my mother and I developed a deep bond with Mary.
This Easter season I realized again the importance of Love (Philia not Eros) as the foundational connection in all family matters.
Eros is the intense, passionate love, where romantic feelings come from. It is present in the beginning of relationships that are connected with sex and emotions. It is seldom a lasting love, but it can turn into that.
Philia is the love of friendship, that grows beyond good feelings to become a mutual commitment. A love of equals, united in a common purpose. Philia refers to love based on mutual respect, shared devotion, joint interest, and common values. It is the type of love required to create and protect families and tribes.
So when I think of all my “In Loves” I think of all those who share the desire to keep the family connected and share responsibility to heal when wounding occurs.
When Mutti died, I became the family matriarch and Mother’s Day has become bittersweet. Our children do celebrate me and I celebrate all mothers of grand and great children but deep down I feel like an orphaned child. I simply hope that my prayerful good wishes reach my mother wherever she might live on.