I stumbled upon the above video and it immediately brought back thoughts of my dad and some of the struggles we went through as a family dealing with Alzheimer’s. Dad is gone now (rest his soul) but felt a pang of guilt as I remembered times when I had very little patience for some of his ‘episodes’.
The truth is, we never knew what we were like as little kids – I recall bits and pieces of my childhood when I am sure that I really tested the limits of my parent’s patience and quite possibly pushed them over the edge. I remember my dad being furious enough with me on some occasions to merit a bit of Samoan discipline that quite honestly was deserving of the punishment because even though I cannot recall the details of my indiscretions I can certainly remember thinking afterwards, ‘I knew better and should not have done that.’
Yet through all the childish tantrums, youthful antics, sore backsides and parental frustrations there was also one thing that I could not deny because it was another constant in my growth and maturity – my parents always explained to me why they were upset with me and they always concluded our heart-to-heart talks (meetings that I now endearingly refer to as my ‘reprogramming sessions’) with the words “I love you.” I often walked away (or waddled depending on the condition of my backside) knowing, not just thinking, that my parents truly and unequivocally had a deep and heartfelt love for me.
Fast-forward to when my paternal grandfather was ill and frail. My dad, his sister and is brothers radiated a love for my grandfather that was palpable whenever they were with him, up until his final hours. Whatever he wanted or needed, my dad and his siblings would move heaven and earth to make it happen. They would often plan their days around my grandfathers’ schedule to make sure that he was being tended to around the clock. I believe in my heart that when my grandfather passed on, he knew without a doubt that his children loved him unconditionally.
What is the difference between these two stories? Except for the fact that the roles are reversed there is absolutely nothing that separates the one from the other. In both examples, there was someone in need and there were people who loved that person enough to set aside what is happening in their life to show compassion, love and understanding for someone they love perfectly.
My parents are both gone now, taken from us at the prime of life. I watch this clip and cannot help but wonder if I did enough to show my parents how much I love them. I wonder if there is something that I could have done better or said more to convey the intense love that I have for both of them. The simplicity of the clip underlies the complexity of the messages it holds for all of us including the importance of showing our love for others all the time before we are left with no time at all.
Here are a few suggestions that might help you to show love before it’s too late:
1) Strike up a conversation – Super Mom tells me that if I would just talk more I would feel better more often. She has a point. Talking may not seem important to a guy who does just fine with little to no interaction but it goes a long way to helping and healing a troubled soul. I have been told days, sometimes weeks later by people that the one time I chose to pick up a phone to strike up a conversation was the one time they needed it most. So take a moment to talk to someone you have been thinking about but have not made the effort to engage in a long time and make it a regular ‘date’.
2) Be Interested – When you strike up that conversation with your loved one do you and them a favor – forget about everything else that is happening in the world (that includes incoming emails, texts and phone calls) and make them feel like they are the only thing in your world. This is something else that I’m guilty of and I’m also a repeat offender. No one wants to talk to a person who would rather be somewhere else doing something else. You are better off forgetting entirely about visiting with your loved one. Be engaged in the conversation and let your body language show them that they matter most right then and they will always remember that.
3) Be Interesting – I have a rule: If I cannot contribute to a conversation beyond the weather and traffic conditions than I am wasting your time and my own. One of the best conversations I have ever had with a person was when I had to answer dozens of questions about a dozen random things that had no particular relevance in my life but it showed that that person was interested in my thoughts and opinions. Ask questions, be inquisitive and keep them talking because those are the conversations that keep you coming back for more.
4) Be Grateful – I could spend hours, maybe even days telling you all the reasons why I am grateful for my parents. I would recommend that you pepper your conversations or your correspondence with your gratitude. But don’t overdo it. Sometimes people are just as grateful for you so let your injections of gratitude come naturally and suddenly you will find that you’re both sharing those reasons without it being cumbersome and awkward.
5) Be forgetful – If your loved one has annoying habits or perhaps there is a reason why you grew apart, there is still a reason why you want to renew the relationship. Barring any serious crimes (including crimes of the heart) there comes a time when the only thing that matters is how you reconcile your feelings for the people you love and cannot stand being without. If it doesn’t work out, at least you have done your part.
Is there someone you want to love more today?