Guest Columns

In love we trust

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Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz

I'm not trying to control you. I'm told that's bad for relationships, whether in love or long-term care blogging. But please read this, and then do what I tell you. Right after the survey team leaves, of course.

It shouldn't come as a huge surprise that we live in an epoch where confidence in time-honored concepts and long-standing institutions has eroded to Grand Canyon depths. Government, healthcare, Santa Claus, religion, business, even personal integrity and commitment — all at all-time lows. When we can't even trust politicians or Chipotle anymore, what's this topsy-turvy world coming to?

But it turns out there's one thing, and perhaps about the only thing, we can still believe in these days — the enduring power of pure, undiluted love. How's that for a heaping tablespoon of hopelessly naïve, Pollyanna-ish treacle? I don't care — it's true, and I can prove it.

A few months ago, I was privileged to visit a couple assisted living communities with the charming and lovable Dave “Gruber” Allen. The goal was to shoot some heartwarming videos to be shown at a fundraiser for the Alzheimer's Association, and we made a rather striking duo — he with Rapunzel-length hair fluttering past his shoulders, and me with … pretty much none.

Sure, it was plenty heartwarming to watch Dave step to the piano and sing classic sentimental songs with seniors (see the videos here and here), but the big highlight was when we sat down to interview them about their love lives, past and present. The couples had been married from 50 to 69 years, and their words of affection for each other was as genuine and tear-inducing an endorsement of love and commitment as I've ever witnessed.

Once the event was over, we posted the last three minutes of that video on our Foundation Facebook page, little expecting what happened next. The piece was quickly noticed and shared by a site called, appropriately, Love What Matters, and to date has been seen by nearly 575,000 people. I hope you'll soon be one of them.

Buried in the endless deluge of grateful, anonymous posts that follows this video is one that says everything necessary — “This is what true love looks like.” I know most of us are probably sickened by the ugliness and vulgarity that pervades the posting of online opinions, and try to avoid comment threads like they're dirty handrails. But trust me, these are 1,600-plus messages that can be browsed without fear, though not without Kleenex.

Some are aspirational, like the young person who posted, “I want to find love like this before I die,” or the soon-to-be married couple who exchanged, “Awhhhh :') it'll be us.” Newlyweds affirmed their commitment: “We are just at the beginning of our adventure. Can't wait to see what's next. So grateful for every moment with you,” and the recently bereaved reveled in fond memories: “Yes, love is what matters. I was with my wife for 40 years and I wished I could have had another 40 with her before the Lord called her home...”

The weight and certainty of impending separation is palpable from the couples in this video, and sadly just a few weeks ago one of these dear people passed away. But what a privilege and honor it was to talk to her and hear her story, and I long to have just five more minutes to tell her how she and her beloved husband have inspired more than half a million people around the world.

Yes, we live in a cynical age, but these selfless couples prove, beyond all reasonable doubt, that there's still something alive on this planet that warrants our unreserved trust, intention and devotion. That's the power of love.

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a national Silver Medalist and regional Gold Medal winner in the 2014 Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program. He has amused, informed and sometimes befuddled long-term care readers worldwide since his debut with the former at the end of a previous century. He is a multimedia consultant for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.


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Guest columns are written by long-term care industry experts, ranging from academics and thought leaders to administrators and CEOs.