By Theresa Blume
My brother heard through the family grapevine that I was having some important medical tests, and a few days later I received a card in the mail with cash in it. It was just a small amount, but to me it spoke volumes.
It was his way of telling me he cared. Growing up in a family who seldom said “I love you” or even hugged each other, I have learned how to read love expressions.
My dad, for instance, had a way of patting the top of our heads when we were kids, kind of like petting a dog on the head. It meant we did a good job. It gave me a feeling of being accepted for whom I was, and I knew that I was good.
When I got older and saw TV dads expressing statements of love, I became angry that my father would not say he loved me. I did not consider that he never told anybody he loved them publically. I was of the “new age” where you said how you felt, and since I certainly did not have difficulty with words, I did not understand.
After many years of life, I began to realize that the way he was raised and his strong silent image stopped him from saying those three little words. I am so grateful that I got a chance to tell him that I understood that he loved me a few years before he died. He seemed grateful that someone took the time to understand his way, and without hesitation his hand shot out, and I felt his giant hand awkwardly pat the top of my head.
Another brother had a different method of showing love. He patiently taught me how to drive his pickup, shoot a gun, learn a wrestling move, train a horse, and build a corral from trees he and I axed off our land. The confidence I gained from those experiences was more valuable than any words would have been.
My younger sister showed me love at a time when I needed it desperately in my older teen years. I played my guitar and wrote songs at night after everyone else went to bed, and she would come and sit on the floor and just listen, never saying a single word. I knew she liked just being there with me, soaking it all in. I was not afraid to play anything, forgetting at times that she was there.
Valentine’s Day comes with great expectations and requirements pushed along by advertisements and stores, but it is not the only day to show someone love. Cards, chocolate, and flowers are lovely gifts, but they are not a replacement for the real thing.
“I love you” is great to hear, and a genuine hug is something to be cherished, but real love is found in daily words and actions. When you take time to listen, provide support, accept people as they are, and ask what they need, you are showing true love. These are the love expressions you cannot get in a box of chocolates.