What is love? Today, I see love manifested when I see my mother. My mother had a stroke last year that left her with aphasia.
Aphasia in this instance means that sometimes she understands your words, sometimes she doesn’t. Sometimes you can understand her words, and sometimes you cannot. So, without the language of words to count on for communication, we communicate in other ways.
My mother, Geraldine (now called “Nama”) had seven children in pretty rapid succession. She is married to a high football coach, and she was a nurse. While we were rich in love, we had very little in the way of material items. My dad worked odd jobs. My mom had no car, and would work the 11-7 shift at a nursing home that she could walk to. Often, she would lug laundry that we couldn’t keep up at home to wash as she worked. She gave all to her family…
As she aged, she slowed down, and was much more sedentary than my dad. He was out jogging, and she would sit in her chair, and sneak out to the deck of a cigarette or two when she could. I used to say that he would go jogging into old age, and she would crawl. She was always brilliant though; witty sharp, funny, and caring. She adored her kids, husband and grandchildren. She might have had a couple of favorites…
She was born in Malden, and her dad died a tragic accident when she was young. Her mother remarried a man here in Mattapoisett, which is where they relocated. She never spoke of her family hardships, what her personal pain was, how she felt. I always asked her to unburden herself and talk.
When I see her now, I see love. She oozes with it. She is polite, kind, still funny, and so incredibly sweet. We as a family take turns hanging out with her so that someone is with her always. My dad, who has just launched a new career in Real Estate at 79 years old, has a new priority of taking care of her. Tables have turned for all of us.
And you know what? It is a pleasure and honor to do so. Communicating with her is by love; tenderly, kindly and fully. I love being with her.
So, this Valentine’s Day, take a minute to think; “If no one could understand my words today, and I could not comprehend theirs, would they know how I felt? Would they feel love?”
Consider your actions or inactions, your non verbal cues, the voice intonation, your smile or frown. Are you saying what you want to say? I feel so fortunate to have this reconnection with my family and hope that I am showing my love…not my impatience, stress or fatigue.
So, big love to you on Valentine’s Day! May you feel it! May you express it! May you appreciate it!