How Do You Love Me?
I do not remember my parents ever telling me they loved me. There were no long hugs or I love you’s as we came and went. This did not seem odd to me – I knew my mother loved me – her voice tone, the way she touched me, her constant presence, her respect and trust in my competence.
My father was another matter. I was born while he was overseas serving in WWII and he did not know how to relate to the adoring two year old who joyfully greeted him on his return. So, yes, I did wonder if he loved me. Even though I looked a lot like my father I fantasized that my real Dad was a Gypsy King who had eloped to Canada with my mother, an Irish princess. When her Gypsy died, my mother married this interloper, my Father.
Yet, looking back with my adult eyes, it is clear how well my Father knew me, respected me, and appreciated who I was. I know the depth of his love for me because he understood my essence even better than my mother did. He did not hug or cuddle me, or look at me with adoration. He did not kiss me or hold me on his lap. He did not applaud my accomplishments. His love for me was demonstrated in actions:
- It was my Dad who chose the fabulous wooden wagon Santa gave me the year I was 8.
- It was he who set up a savings plan so I could have the very best bike– paid half by me and half by him.
- It was Dad who created a teenage hang out in our basement.
- The red cashmere sweater and Chanel #5 cologne I got for Christmas my first year in University were his choices.
As an adult, I have grown beyond the belief that one special word or hug or kiss is an accurate reflection of our feelings of regard for someone.
In Sonnet 43 Elizabeth Barrett Browning struggles for 14 lines to convincingly articulate the depth of her love for her husband. Each line is so passionate and heartfelt. But for me, the most convincing lines are:
- “I love thee to the level of every day’s
- most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.”
It is in the small day to day attentions we pay to our family and friends that the depth of our love and appreciation is expressed.
How do you show your love to family and friends?