‘I married my husband when we did not yet love each other.’
Mary turned down her husband when he proposed to her. The memory makes her chuckle. ‘I had already said no to four other men! I’m intelligent, I make the finest bread… I’m a catch! My brother convinced me to reconsider. ‘I know you don’t love this man yet,’ he told me, ‘but he is truly a good one.’
Tears come to her eyes as Mary explains how her husband taught her to love. ‘I had a sick mother whom I loved more than anyone in the world. I cared for her and slept in the same bed with her. Her greatest wish was to see me get married and she bought all she could to ensure I would make a beautiful bride. She didn’t make it to my wedding day and that was heartbreaking for me. I gave away all her presents for my wedding and I couldn’t celebrate because I was mourning.’
‘One week before the wedding my husband took me to his mother. “Take Mary to the finest stores and buy her everything she pleases,’ he told her. ‘I want her to have whatever her heart desires.” While I could only think of my mother, he was thinking of me. That day I realized that I would not be lacking anything while under my husband’s roof. We have come to love each other by leaning on each other.’
‘Now my husband is not able to provide for me to the extent that he would like. As a result of the war in Iraq our house has been destroyed twice, and he has lost his whiskey business. And I cannot give him the kind of home we once had, or the kind of meals he would like.
However, when he’s in the city he will always call me, “I’ve found something beautiful, would it make you happy if I bought it?” I tell him no, but I do the same for him. I bake fresh bread every day, because that’s what I can afford. I re-upholster the furniture, because I can do that myself. I’ve learned that the strength to carry on is found in unconditional love. I can get by without all the stuff I used to own. But to lose love would tear me apart.’