A True “Casablanca Romance,” and the Power of the Love Story

 In our age of cynicism, should we consider stories of sacrificial love to inspire, motivate, guide and encourage us?

We must admit, human hearts are continually captivated by stories of love and devotion; they are susceptible and tender when it comes to real loving relationship. We cheer for love to succeed; we are disappointed and sad when it does not. We find that, in a world that can sometimes be dark and broken, through a story of sacrificial love we may rise above, believe more, become better. Love stories are good for us!


Cynics say we should not get our hopes up, for we will only be disappointed. They point out instances where love breaks down and say, “It’s too hard, why bother?”


But take a look at our theme for this month: A Casablanca Romance.


Casablanca is a beautiful love story. Ilsa (the luminous Ingrid Bergman) is loved by two men, and both are willing to part with her to ensure her welfare. Victor, Ilsa’s husband, wants to ensure her physical safety and well-being, and is willing to be left behind in order to secure it. Rick (Humphrey Bogart) loves Ilsa’s beautiful heart, so committed to her high ideals. He knows if she stays with him, those will be lost to her, and she will regret it, “Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.” Rick is more concerned with the welfare of her heart. …Two men, each deeply in love with the same woman, each ready and willing to sacrifice himself for the good of his beloved.


I have my own love story. It involves a man I have loved for over 45 years, and spent 42 1/2 of those years married to him. You know him, too; he is the saint of the tearoom – James.


Jim and Me (1)

His sacrificial love for me has been expressed in many ways over these years, but you would be inspired to know the whole, behind-the-scenes story of the Tearoom – and the love of its saint for his lady. From all the years we ate on an ironing board because our dining table was used for unboxing tearoom merchandise, to having our living room be the Tearoom warehouse for over a decade, filled with high shelving units (which worked because all our furniture was at the Tearoom). He never complained that we had scrambled eggs three nights a week, and didn’t seem to get tired of Costco enchiladas. He never said a word about how hard I was working without a penny of remuneration. After working all day he would come to the Tearoom and do dishes, mop floors, water the garden, and help in any way at all until we closed up. He helped me keep the books and do the banking. I won’t even tell you about the financial sacrifices he has made. You would be aghast.


All his help, all his patience and forbearance, all his sacrifice – for one reason alone: his love for me.


His love dignifies me; it ennobles me, inspires me. Love stories, the world over, have that capacity; they compel us, motivate us, humanize us. We are the better for these stories. They are worth enjoying, examining, and showcasing. They lift us up. In a world that can sometimes be broken and full of distress, a story of real love may help us rise above, believe more, become better. Love stories are good for us. May we all find our way into one of them!


Yours, for a return of Grace, Civility, Beauty, Gentility, Excellence,

… and lots of Love Stories,

Mary Alice