by Andrea Goeglein
“Fight Every Day and Love Always.” That was the advice my Mom shared at the marriage of our daughter, Dana Rizer, this year. The two pieces of advice may seem contradictory, but when you consider the definition of love from the study of positive psychology, it might be easier to understand.
Lead positive psychology researcher, Barbara Fredrickson, defines love as “interpersonally situated experiences marked by momentary increases in shared positive emotions; biobehavioral synchrony; and mutual care which, over time, builds embodied rapport; social bonds; and commitment.” (1) I know, not exactly a Hallmark card, but bear with me. The following story will help that definition make sense.
On June 27, 2017, my father, Andrew Terzano, died. If ever a person lived with the Don’t Die Spirit, it was my Dad. My love for him knows no bounds. My gratitude for his long, love–filled life will have no end. Below is the eulogy I delivered at his funeral mass.
“Fight Every Day and Love Always”
On March 18th of this year, two days after my Dad turned 96, and on the day he and my Mom were the best man and maid of honor at our daughter’s wedding, Mom was asked, “What is the secret to being married so long?” Without a moment’s hesitation, Mom replied, “Fight every day!”
And fight they did to the last moment of my Dad’s life.
I want to share some of my most favorite fights.
Let’s take the art of frying eggplant. If you ever had the pleasure of eating my Dad’s fried eggplant before or after he made it into eggplant Parmesan, you know it tasted really, really, good. His secret was using a lot of olive oil. The more olive oil he used the more my Mom yelled at him. Usually, it was in some form of her calling him a “Stupid so and so” or something or other to which my Dad would reply, “Awe, go take yourself a walk.” And then with his signature smile on his face, he would add a bit more olive oil.
Or, maybe it was when he was making his famous pork gravy. There was never enough pig skin and pork fat to make my father happy. And for good measure he always added more olive oil. Of course, Mom was there and encouraged him by calling him every kind of “Stupid this and that.” He would tell her to go take herself “a walk” and then while smiling he would add a bit more olive oil.
Or, maybe you had my Dad’s famous and ever-present hot peppers with olive oil. It was the one ingredient he seemed to add to every food he ate with the exception of his breakfast cereal. The scene while he fried those peppers was just like the eggplant and the pork sauce. Dad would be cooking. Mom would be yelling at him for using too much oil. He would tell her to go take a walk for herself. He would smile and then he would add a bit more oil just for good measure.
The years went by, and I nicknamed them the Bickerson’s.
As their hearing failed, the yelling got louder and it seemed as though they were really mad at each other. Then there was one memorable night when my father set me straight.
About 5 years ago, I had come for a regular visit. Because Richard was not with me, I left my suitcase on the side of the bed by the bedroom door. At that time, Mom and Dad were still sleeping in the bedrooms upstairs, too. It was a warm night, and my Dad wanted me to be comfortable so he decided to go into the room to open the window for me. However, he did not turn on the light and therefore tripped over my suitcase and cracked his head wide open. As with any head wound, blood was spouting everywhere. While I frantically tried to figure out what had happened, Mom was next to me yelling at him like a trooper. At that moment, Dad was a “Stupid so and so on steroids.”
Mom yelled that he should have minded his own business.
Mom yelled that he should have turned on the light.
And on and on.
I finally calmed Mom enough to have her call 911. As she did I said to my Father, “Dad, Mommy seems to be yelling at you more and more. What is that about?” He said I was right, “but not to worry.” He said it was okay. “It is just the two of us and it gives her something to do.” He said he liked it. It was then that I realized fighting was their way of saying, I Love You. All day long!
You see, it is my Mom who bought those eggplants for him to fry.
It was my Mom who asked – as though she needed to – “Do you want to make some sauce?” every Sunday of my Dad’s life.
It was my Mom who would call my brother Bruce to find hotter peppers since the ones she was getting were not quite hot enough.
Every way and every day, Mom made sure she had a reason to fight with my Dad so he never missed a day of his life not knowing that she loved him.
To prove my point, my niece Andie will read a poem my Mom gave my Dad which hangs on the prayer wall my Dad created in his Basement/Man Cave:
By Bernard Levine
I love you Darling
I love being with you,
You surprise me to achieve my ambitions.
You fill my world with surprises.
I feel I have found a new life.
In my mind, you are adorable.
In my heart, you are completeness.
I am yours totally
In support through all our tomorrows.
Love always, Chris (that’s my Mom)
Today there may seem like there are no more tomorrows, but we all know love is stronger than death, and between my Mom and Dad there will always be the greatest of love.
(1) Fredrickson (2013). Love 2.0
Note: The featured photo is of my Dad as a young boxer. His ring name was Andy Terra.