Sunday, February 11, 2018

My very gentle Valentine

"Je suis desja d’amour tannĂ©" (I am already sick of love), "Ma tres doulce ValentinĂ©e" (my very gentle Valentine)

Charles, Duke of Orleans, was imprisoned in the Tower of London after being captured by the Brits during the Battle of Agincourt. The year was 1415. The love note was sent to Bonne of Armagnac, his wife. She died before these words of love reached her. They are forever preserved in the British Library. A loving Valentine message sent that would remain unopened by the recipient, yet it has been viewed by hundreds of people, keeping this love alive.

"The rose is red, the violet's blue, The honey's sweet and so are you." Yep, that little poem is from the 1784. It began life as a nursery rhyme.  The poem's origins reach back in time to Sir Edmund Spenser's 1590 epic, The Faerie Queene. "She bath'd with roses red, and violets blew, and all the sweetest flowres, that in the forrest grew."

Shoppers look for that perfect card or gift. Always they look for words to express their feelings.  Words written by someone else. If you are like me, the verse means very little. Those words written by hand at the bottom of the verse are those treasured. As my son said, "Don't send me a card if you don't write in it." Yes, those are the words that are important. They need not be poetic. They need not flow in rhyme. Sometimes just the word 'love' written by hand is enough.

I run my finger across the words and hold the card to my face. In her flourished writing, she tells me she loves me. As my fingers touch the lovely words, I am once again with my mother. It is as close as I can get now, but I know that her hand wrote each letter as loved filled her heart for a daughter who lived far away. The love in those words, in her writing, still holds me close to her. They are all I have left and are more treasured than those in the British Museum. For these words are meant for me only.

We all need to express words of love. Words from our own hearts written in our own hands, spoken in our own words, recognizing that love is an action word needing to be said and needing to be heard.

In the 17th century, Shakespeare expressed it beautifully in his play Hamlet.  Ophelia waits, "To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day, All in the morning betime, 
And I a maid at your window, To be your Valentine.

Monday, February 5, 2018

I hand you love

Valentines Day is just around the corner. Thoughts turn to love....and sometimes loves lost. Roses, candy, a night out on the town. Love of family, love of life, love of all sorts fill that love bank we carry within all of us. Love. That word has great significance for me. Merriam-Webster defined it for me. But the definition is only words unless it is believed and shown in actions. 
The fourth definition of love
 a : unselfish, loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another: such as
(1) : the fatherly concern of God for humankind
(2) : brotherly concern for others 

Wherever we go I end up in a conversation with strangers. And, always as we part be it from a five minute conversation or one that truly evolves into friendship, we end with an embrace and sometimes tears. One of the best compliments I ever received was from a counselor I worked with at the high school. She said, "Pam, you love the dregs of the earth, and they love you back." Wow! What a treasured comment. I knew from the time when I was a child back the lane that there was more to love.

(Back to my dictionary) be·nev·o·lent: kind, kindly, kindhearted, big-hearted, good-natured, benign, compassionate (synonyms) caring, altruistic, humanitarian, philanthropic; generous, magnanimous, munificent, unselfish, openhanded, beneficent.

If ever the world needed love, it is now. Love that has no boundaries. Love that should wrap around us all making us kind, compassionate, humanitarians thinking only in altruistic terms (selfless concern for the well-being of others; unselfish). We cannot be Christians if love lacks all of the above. Love does not dwell beneath only one flag. It does not come in only one color. Love is not only for those of one race, one belief, one country, one lifestyle. Love is a universal language singing from the hearts of those who believe in it and understand it. Love. Meant to flow out. Meant to embrace. 

As you all know, I believe we are to love everyone we meet....and even those we never meet, but those who share Planet Earth. We are all pieces of a puzzle that is not complete until we find that love of one another. Isn't it, in fact, what we are told in the words of Christ? Love one another. As simple as that. No discrimination, no theology difference, no race, no creed, no judgement of any kind. A simple four letter word. LOVE. Red and yellow, black and white. He loved the sinner and spent time with those who all others turned away from. He gave us an example because He was 'love come down'.
I cannot make others love one another, but I can love all I meet. I can look beyond differences and find similarities. I can reach out a hand to those in need instead of slapping it down. I can share the light I find in myself calling forward love and handing it out to every person I meet without asking them to change. 

Today I hand you a valentine. I hand you love.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Because I love you

MeMe (after dinner out with the family): I need to go home now. (I had been with the kids for 3 hours)
Nolan: No, you go home with us.
MeMe: Nolan, why would I go home with you again?
Nolan: (leaning into me and in a soft voice) Because I love you.

Moments in time. Those precious moments we want to savor now and always. How I wish I had a journal of every sweet, silly, wise word my children and grandchildren have ever spoken. Those words that touch me so deeply that I could weep. Okay, sometimes I do shed a tear or two.

We are planning our trip to Ohio in August. I like to schedule my time away when I will not  miss any family events big or small. My son James told me that we can go whenever we choose. They will work out the kinks in schedules. Then I explained to him that it is not the fact that they will need to fill in the time for my absence. No, it is because I don't want to miss a minute of this precious time with them. The twins grow so quickly. In my estimation, there is nothing more important as that time with them. James surprised me when he said that he totally understood. He feels the same way.

Perhaps it is because the older I get the less important travel, possessions, things that separate me from 'potential moments' become. I see more clearly that all we have in the end are those we love. The rest is just garnish.

With my parents living across the country, they never partook of the special events in their grandchildren's lives. Finances were a key player. And, I don't think Mom and Dad ever thought about it. But I knew it. So when my family expanded, I swore that I would always live within a distance where I could be part of my children's lives. Those children would never wonder why their grandma was absent.

Last week Loren and I had lunch with the twins. His 6'2" frame scrunched into the seat next to Nolan. I sat between the kids. We were instructed by them as to proper cafeteria behavior and the recess rules that would follow. Quickly we learned the names of the other children who were eating or staring at us and were often asked if we were Emma and Nolan's grandparents. Children who saw me the last time came up for a hug. It was a win-win for all concerned.

'Grandparent' should be a verb. It is not passive. It is not a good noun. It is another word for loving, for playing, for caring enough to give up time to focus on what is fleeting. There is so much joy in this word. It is a title we share with friends who have no grandchildren. It is a gift.

Wednesday I had a full afternoon with the twins. When the weather is nice, we play a game where they ride their bikes up to my chair (the pet store) and order the things they need. Emma always orders 1,000 of all the animals she can name and food for each. She delights me in her determination and imagination. Nolan.....well, this will explain it.

MeMe: Nolan, what would you like to order today.
Nolan: 100 frogs, 100 turtles, 100 chickens, 1 horse, 1 cow, 1 leopard and a bucket of paint.

These are precious moments....because I love them.