This is what love looks like

What would be in your photograph to define love? We’ve had that challenge in the web business over the years, particularly during the constitutional amendment debate over what constitutes marriage. We almost always settled on either a wedding cake or a picture of wedding rings.

We’re conditioned to think of true love as love at the beginning. The Winona Daily News reminds us today that love at the end is a much better definition.

Look at this picture on the front page of the paper.

It’s John Grote, 86, stroking the forehead of his wife, Rosie, 83. She has Parkinson’s. She can’t walk. She can barely speak.

The Daily News’ story is about Winona Health’s hospice program, certainly a deserving focus.

But it’s the Grotes’ definition of love that’s the takeaway.

They met more than 60 years ago in Minneapolis. John worked for Montgomery Ward. Rosie was a farm girl.

After a movie date, they began to fall for each other. They got married in July 1957 and soon had six children who gave them a generous number of grandchildren.

“We have seven or eight,” John said. It’s hard to keep track sometimes.

They’ve had a lot of good times, John and Rosie.

Once, while canoeing, John broke his glasses. Because Rosie didn’t have a driver’s license, John had to drive them home, blurry-eyed, as his wife called out directions.

“Rosie tried to drive once,” he said. “The instructor was a nervous wreck.”

John and Rosie also took dancing lessons together, pretending they were quite good until they actually weren’t half-bad. That’s how they moved through life — clinging to optimism, holding each other tight.

Over the years, John and Rosie’s siblings passed one by one away, including their respective twins. But John has always had Rosie. And Rosie has always had John.

Suddenly, Rosie breaks her silence with a cough, and her husband is pulled first to the present, then to the future.

“Sometimes,” he said, “I wonder how long I’ll be able to take care of her.”