My daughter Pat and a neighbor take a long walk at 5 AM almost every morning. If you venture out too much later than that, it’s HOT. I would walk with them, but for me, 5 AM is the middle of the night. If I wake up at that time, I think, “Yaaay! I’ve got another couple of hours to sleep.”
The neighbor’s name is Jenny, and she’s an interesting person. She takes as many and probably more food supplements than I do. I thought I kept a large inventory of products on hand — so many that Pat has said, “Mom, tell me you are not really taking all this stuff”.
Yes, I do have many products, and I thought I had more than anyone could have until I saw Jenny’s supply. She could completely stock a new health food store. She has them stored “here, there, and everywhere” around her house. She says she has so many because she has two dogs and five cats, and she supplements the diet of all of them. It’s true — she does take extraordinary care of her animals, but primarily, the products are for humans. Some of them are so exotic that I don’t know what they are. And I thought I knew it all. (Ahem.)
But I’m straying from my original intent: to write an article to encourage people to say “I love you,” to say “thank you” for the smallest kindness, and to forgive and forget.
How does Jenny fit into all of this? I got sidetracked because Jenny revealed to Pat that she has some serious family issues — close relatives who “hate” each other and haven’t seen or spoken to each other in years. Does that sound familiar?
Some family interactions and friendships can be difficult and seemingly impossible to navigate. Jealousy, envy, pride, political beliefs, and personality differences can seem to be insurmountable. Unfortunately, hate and resentment often blind us and make it impossible to reason or think clearly.
I am at a place in life where I refuse to participate in family and friendship disagreements and disputes. My way of dealing with disagreements is this: I refuse to argue. I don’t care what “she said” or “what he did” or “you did” or “he didn’t do,” or even, “you forgot my birthday” or “you supported Trump or Biden.” In the end, none of it matters. When a family or friendship discussion turns nasty, I physically remove myself from the situation with the explicit declaration that “I love you all, but I’m leaving,” and I do just that — I leave. As much as I may be dying to say something in rebuttal to a snide remark. my “wisdom” doesn’t need to be said or heard. Tough to do? Sure, but so what. Life is short.
In my family and many other families of my generation, “I love you” was an unspoken alien phrase. I never heard it from my mother or father, and I’d wager that if you are close to my age, you never heard it from your parents either. But, enough food showed love, as did enough clothes to wear even though they were hand-me-downs from an older sibling or a neighbor. It was the “Great Depression”; we were poor, but I didn’t know it.
The power of “I love you” came to me as a revelation when my mother was in the hospital. She was in New Jersey, and I lived in California, so a visit was not likely. I called the hospital to speak to her, and at the end of our strained conversation, for the first time, I said, “I love you,” and she responded without hesitation, “I love you too.” She died several days later. Was I happy I told her that I loved her? You bet. It made me a better person at that moment.
Since the day I spoke to my mother for the last time, I have tried to tell loved ones and friends that I love them even when I disagree with them or don’t like them. I have also chosen to forgive and say “thank you” and let go of grudges — they make you look mean. Even if you don’t feel it, saying “I love you” shuts down negativity and will make you a happier person.
Today, do something thoughtful for someone you love. Send or bring them a bouquet of flowers, or just send or give a greeting card –your own creation or “store-bought” that says “I love you”.
Years ago there was a song, “Little Things Mean a Lot” — they sure do. It’s powerful. What we give is returned to us, not always in kind, but in other, more wonderful ways than we can imagine. Try it, you (and they) will like it.