Daniel James Brown’s book The Boys in the Boat is the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 Olympic victory in rowing and of Joe Rantz in particular, the unlikeliest boy in the boat. Desperately poor and abandoned by his father, a bright spot was his true love, Joyce. After winning the gold medal in Berlin, he returned and married her. She made a vow that “come what may, she would make sure he never went through anything like it again, would never again be abandoned, would always have a warm and loving home” (Daniel James Brown, The Boys in the Boat [New York: Penguin, 2014], 361). She kept her vow for sixty-three years, until, in a room they shared in a skilled nursing facility, where the nurses had pushed their beds together so they could hold hands, she died. It was Joyce’s unwavering love that propelled Joe to anchor his team’s races and win. She restored his own self-regard. It may be the love of others for us that shows us how to love ourselves.
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