Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Unspoken "I Love You"

My parents came from a generation that didn't always express in words how they felt. As a kid, I don't remember anyone in my family saying "I Love You" but I had a great childhood. I do remember my mom giving my dad a quick kiss when he went to work and us a kiss goodnight but I don't remember those words. Looking back I do feel I was loved without the words.

 "I Love You" became very important as I grew up. I remember waiting to hear those words from a boyfriend, but none did. Until my hubby came along. He said it first. And I still remember that butterfly feeling in my stomach. Someone actually loved me. Of course I said it back and still do. As my kids came along, I knew it was very important for me to tell them  "I Love You" as much as I could.

But never from my mother and never from my father. I knew they grew up in an era that avoided those words but never really understood why. I don't remember my mother-in-law or father-in-law saying them either.
Mom and Dad on their wedding day. September 11, 1949
Then a few years before my mom died at age 79, she said  "I Love You" to me. It was probably the three hardest words she could ever say to her 5 children. It was an innocent comment from my son that gave her that courage.

I lived an 8 hour drive away from my mom and she used to call once a month on a Sunday. I wasn't always home and one day, my teenage son answered the phone at 1 in the afternoon. He had been sleeping, so really wasn't very talkative. After a few minutes the conversation was over but it wasn't until the next Sunday that I learned what was said.

The following week, mom called and when I answered, her first words were, "Do you know what your son said to me last week"? Now all sorts of things were going through my mind of possible swear words. I mumbled a tiny 'no' and hoped she would quickly get to the point about how I was such a bad mother. Then she tells me when my son finished talking to her, he said  "I Love You Gramma".

OK. I didn't really know what to say since we say it all the time in my house, even now that the kids are older and I have a granddaughter almost one. 

Months later, my aunt told me that she and my mom had been practicing to say "I Love You". It didn't come easily to her but 4 of her 5 kids finally heard the words over the next year. She kept practicing for another year to be able to say the same to the one last sister who lived out west. But she did. It took all her effort but she said "I Love You" to all of us in person and to her it was one of the biggest accomplishments of her life.
Mom in 1991.
Love the big 80's glasses.
So how was it that we all survived and did well without hearing "I Love You" all the time. As I think back, I realize there were many ways we were shown love without the actual words being said from either my dad or mom. 

The night before my dad died in April 2000, I spoke with him on the phone. Funny but I ended the conversation with "I Love You". I don't think I had ever said it before. He died unexpectedly in hospital the next day. I am glad I have that tiny little memory to hold onto.
Dad at my wedding, 1981
He wore a tux just for me.
Sometimes in life it isn't always about the words we say. It's those unspoken actions that let those around us know that they love us. The touch, the look, the little things they do for us. My hubby doesn't buy me flowers, but he does fill my car with gas on his way to karate class. He doesn't like to cook, but he does open the bottle of wine. And we say  "I Love You" to each other almost every day. 

Cause one never knows what tomorrow will bring.

Maybe it isn't always necessary to say "I Love You". Maybe it really is about those little happenstances that show our love in other ways.

As we head towards Valentine's Day, I hope you see the love around you. 

Just look. It's everywhere. 
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Jody V said...

Beautiful post. My Mom never said it to me as well until she was near death. But I always knew I was loved. Again....great post.

Darlin1 said...

Yep.....came from a different place ...BUT....I get it!

I often tell friends and family....that I love them....because I do! It's important to say!!!!


Beth Ann said...

Beautiful. This is just a lovely post.

Dinnerland said...

Very sweet sentiments- how did your fill go??

Linda Sherwood said...

My in-laws are like what you describe, but I grew up in a house where my mom said it but my dad didn't.

Even more, when my mom tried to kiss my dad and people were around, he'd pretend to hack up a snotball. It was SO attractive. My mom wasn't deterred. She hugs, kisses and says I love you despite what anyone thinks. :)

I loved your story, and I'm so glad your mom took the time to say those three words to you and your siblings and that your son helped her change her ways.

tz said...

what a beautiful post -- my grandparents weren't big on I love you -- frankly my dad's side of the family pretty much just says the word love when discussing food (something my husband pointed out during a reunion) but I knew my grandparents loved me :D sometimes actions speak louder than words...but the words are important too -- I hope our generation has learned that while still keeping the actions part of it that our grandparents/parents had.

Lonicera said...

Love this post Sandy, because my parents were exactly the same. I don't think they ever got to say it, but I felt well loved in actions, if not words. I also know how proud they were of me, and that satisfied me. Lovely pics to look at too.

Cynthia said...

Same for me. It would have meant so much to hear those words as I was growing up. I made sure to say it freely to my own children, as often as possible.

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