"When I write stories I am like someone who is in her own country, walking along streets that she has known since she was a child, between walls and trees that are hers." --Natalia Ginsburg

Monday, 20 August 2012

I Love You.........

"If we discovered that we had only five minutes left to say all that we wanted to say, every telephone booth would be occupied by people calling other people to stammer that they loved them." -Charles Morley

Growing up there was no doubt in my mind that my parents loved me. They showed me in many ways, but I do not remember hearing them say I love you when I was little. I loved my parents so much I thought I would burst--I smothered them with hugs and kisses. Mom would be in the kitchen working away and I would hear her singing or talking—I remember my heart filling with love for her—right from the bottom of my toes and I would run to the kitchen and launch myself at her 5’1 frame and wrap my arms around her legs.
My Father always smelled like fresh air and the woods that he worked in. After supper most evenings he would lay on the couch for a half hour to watch the news and get the latest weather report---before going back outside to work. I would sometimes climb up and sit on his stomach. Other times I would lay snuggled into his shoulder with his strong arm around me and breathe in the scent of him. I felt cherished and safe.
When I was older, maybe sixteen, we had a guest preacher come to our church and he talked about loving the people in our lives and telling them we loved them. He said if we loved someone we should tell them—because love is a gift, and we never know what it will mean to someone. He said it would take courage the first few times—and be awkward, but it would get easier.
I am ALL about love, so I took that as a personal challenge. That very night when it was time to say goodnight, I was kind of squirming, but I remembered the preacher did say it would be awkward. Dad was sitting at the kitchen table reading the paper, I gave him a kiss on the cheek, and put my arms around his neck to hug him. I said softly over his shoulder,”I love you.”
He whipped his glasses off, looked at me and said—“What did you say”?
Blushing, I stammered, “I love you”.
He quickly retreated behind the newspaper and mumbled, “Ah…me too”.
Mom’s reaction was exactly the same, except she chuckled, no doubt thinking she was indulging her sentimental child…. (smile).
My parents were the first ones to hear I love you from me---but didn’t I love my brothers and sisters too? Hmmmm---this took some considerable thought, but, I did not want to back down from the challenge. I had been told it was important—so with great embarrassment, through gritted teeth, I told each of my five siblings I loved them. Considering we loved to torment and tease each other, my declarations of love were met with various reactions; laughter, suspicion, a little irritation---and perhaps a little love in return...(smiling).
Dad and Mom were very accepting of my expressions of love, even though it was a little bewildering for them at first. I think my siblings were traumatized. I am laughing as I write this—I almost feel sorry for my family—because I was just getting started.
My family is very close. We show our love in the way we talk to each other, the way we treat each other—how we help meet each others needs. All our lives, our affection has been evident in how we tease each other about our differences---we have it down to a fine art. Learning to say I love you was just another way to express that.
The night before my Mother died, she called me, even though we had spoken at length the night before. I will always believe her call was prompted by God. At the end of the phone call, I told her I would be home the next day, and I would see her then. I ended the call—as usual—by telling her, “I love you”, She replied, “I love you too dear.” Just before she hung up I said, “Mom! I don’t want you to think I am just saying that---I really, really looooovvvvve you"!!! We both laughed—she said, “Okay dear—goodnight.” Five hours later I got the phone call that she had died—suddenly and unexpectedly.
The day before my Father died, I told him his body was too sick to get better and that he would be going home to heaven soon. I told him one of us would be with him until that time and that we loved him. He tried very hard to say ‘I love you too’, but he was having trouble breathing. That night Jane and I stayed at the hospital. While Jane rested I stood beside Dad’s bed. I kept reaching out to touch him---resting my hands on his arm or holding his hand---I wanted him to feel my touch and to know I was there. Every time I did, it disturbed him and he would struggle a little for breath, so around 4am I lifted his hand one last time and pressed a kiss to it—and softly said my last I love you—I am not sure he heard. I woke Jane at 5:30 and then went to rest. Dad died forty minutes later.
My parents and I had a lifetime of expressing our love to each other---through actions and words. If I did not have those last opportunities to tell my parents I loved them in their final hours—I would have no regrets. Although I am grateful I learned to tell them I love them, the way I treated them was more important, and I know they were confident of my love.
I don’t remember who that guest preacher was, but I thank God for him---and if he is still alive I ask God to give him a special blessing for the gift he gave me—the challenge to be vulnerable and express my love. All the squirming, blushing and stammering was well worth it.


  1. Oh Dianne, this is beautiful. I started to read the quote and just couldn't stop, though I did have to slow down a little as my vision started to get a little blurry towards the end.

    This is something I've been thinking about this Summer(from the tack of saying it to people I love, though I might not necessarily feel it at the time - it's harder to feel in the presence of some than others, but the love is there nonetheless) and to hear it from yet another perspective, and so personal a one, was precious. Thank you. CW

  2. very true words!

  3. Such a beautiful post. :)

    1. Thanks Debbie, and thanks for reading!

  4. Read this for the first time this morning. Needless to say I am in tears over here! Tears of joy and of empathy. We are so lucky to have had so much love and now we get to share it. coco

  5. Thanks Laurie--we have been blessed indeed. xx