March 22, 2013 – Another Review – Dandelion Man: The Four Loves
“We were on a common journey traveling through time and space, learning new things together, sharing experiences that formed lasting memories and shaped the people we were becoming.”(pg. 85)
Do you remember your first love? Most do. We carry that first love deeply hidden in our hearts, but that hidden love remains. First love is that overpowering, head-over-heels feeling that we experience in our tender youth and it often teaches us how to need and respond to others. It prepares us for that special person with whom we ultimately share our life. Unfortunately, relatively few of us find the unending type of love the first time around. Yet that first love is so special that we never forget it. Forty years after losing his first love, Wally, now happily married, attends the funeral of dee’s (spelled with a small d) father. And in that meeting renews the memory of a love that both elated and crushed him so many years ago.
Kreucher’s tale is related during a dinner, as Wally tells his story to Corrine, his first love’s teenage daughter. While this is an interesting and unique backdrop for his story there are times when the thought of an older man talking to a younger woman with such passion made this reader a little uncomfortable. However, the story that is related is both powerful and interesting. Wally meets dee during a sporting practice and is smitten with the pretty younger girl. Both are faithful and practicing Catholics from large working-class families. Their dating is innocent, consisting of the usual school dances and family events. Over the years, the teenage romance blossoms into a deep and loving relationship. As with all relationships, special events mark the happy moments that form lasting memories. When dee asks for special flowers to match her yellow prom dress, Wally orders a beautiful corsage, but playfully gifts dee with a bouquet of dandelions. The quirky humor that the lovers share is part of the feelings that are growing. It is also the basis of the nickname ‘Dandelion Man’ that thereafter labels Wally. The two date for years, yet because of their deep and abiding faith, physical contact remains limited.
When Wally leaves for college to study engineering, dee remains behind as a high school senior. The separation is hard and, as she grows and attends a different college, their time apart wears on the relationship. The heartbreaking result is the end of the youthful romance. As with most young love, the two grow apart and find others in their life. Yet, the affection and memory of that special love remains.
This book is Catholic: on a fundamental level it represents a pure and innocent love that a common faith promotes. However, I was touched by a deeper meaning as to what that young love represents. It represents our childhood relationship with God. We fall in love with our Creator and our emotions and passion carry us as our hearts fly with joy. We see nothing but good and trust Him with complete abandon. But this is an immature shallow love. We can’t accept any true test of that love. It is as if we are a child trying to learn to walk. We are full of trust as He holds us, but when He lets us go and we fall, we turn away. Not understanding that we need to grow and walk on our own we resent Him. It is only when that immature love dies, that we are ready to learn agape love. Agape love is unselfish, the kind of love that understands that we deserve nothing but to be grateful that He loves us. It love for love itself, with nothing to personally gain or garnish, a love that accepts both pain and joy with a steady sense of peace.
In his tale of young romance, Kreucher shows us the four types of love. When dee and Wally start off there is affection that grows into friendship. Then that love grows to a physical attraction that is called Eros. It isn’t until pain, separation, and heartbreak that Wally learns to have Agape love for dee. It is often so with our relationship with God. We develop a friendship (Phileo) with God full of emotion and attraction. But it is not until we seem to ‘lose’ Him, when our prayers seem unanswered, and our pain unacknowledged, that we learn to love God, not for what He can give us, but just for who He is. On page 158 a parting note from dee explains it all:
“…just to know that my love was truly happy. As for me, the words of Kahlil Gibran describe it best, ’and ever has it been known that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.’”
Agape love, the love He has for us, happens in the pain, the suffering, and the sense of aloneness. We learned to love God as He loves us. This is the true tale of this author’s story, a story that reflects the ultimate love, the love between the Creator and His creation. I recommend this work, especially read from a spiritual standpoint.