Love is a word that should be used judiciously.
Love of a newborn child is immediate and unconditional but most other forms of love evolve over time. Throughout my own loving childhood, such exchanges between parent and child were rare. Love was demonstrated rather than spoken of.
My own children’s generation are a different breed altogether. Openly affectionate and lavish with their expressions of love, they provide a shining example to buttoned-up baby boomers of another way to live their lives. Their readiness to declare their emotions to the world could be read by their elders as the sort of over-sharing that can lead to vulnerability. These young people love broadly and deeply and they don’t care who knows it.
They have taught me that expressions of love are not just for one’s children.
The older we get, the more precious our friendships become. The longer the time we inhabit this earth the greater our exposure to extremes of happiness and sorrow. In good times and in bad, our friendships are strengthened. Taking a leaf out of my children’s book, I have begun to use the L-word in my written communications with my friends, and occasionally (and for some reason most scarily of all) to their faces.
Those of us who have both parents alive and well are in the fortunate position of having the opportunity to express our love and gratitude for all the things they have provided.
A recent conversation with an old family friend (himself a recent graduate to the ranks of senior citizen) brought up memories of the Mike and the Mechanics song The Living Years: ‘I wasn’t there that morning/When my father passed away/Didn’t get to tell him/All the things I had to say…’
We both confessed to being reduced to tears every time we heard it, sentimental old fools that we have become. Our conversation turned to shared memories of our parents. My friend had lost his father thirty years earlier. He impressed on me the importance of leaving mine in no doubt of my affection. The next morning I dropped in to see my parents. I managed to say all the things I had to say in three little words. It went down surprisingly well.