Valentine's Day, 2009, is over...but it's never too late to say these three words: "I love you.' (Were you thinking "Let's eat out," or "Let's start davening" (LSD)?
In Patrick Lindsay's wonderful book,"It's Never Too - 172 Simple Acts to change your life," he writes, "It's never too late...to say I love you. It sounds so simple, and it is. Yet it means so much, to your partner. Your family. Your friends. It's a gift. Give it freely. But mean it."
How many of you remember the 1989 movie, "When Harry Met Sally"? Harry (Billy Crystal) first meets Sally (Meg Ryan) when they're college students, driving from Chicago to New York. They don't hit it off... but there's chemistry in their banter. They go their separate ways once they arrive in the Big Apple. A second meeting and more "kibbitzing." Several more years pass and they bump into each other again. Harry is a divorced man ("der goyresh") and Sally has broken up with her own long-term relationship. They finally connect that "driter" (third) time and they finally realize they're a perfect match. Perhaps it's "bashert" (destined).
What did Harry say? "I love that you get cold when it's seventy-one degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. and it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Year's Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible."
My husband and I grew up in homes where our parents rarely said the words, "I love you." They would have agreed with John Woolman, who said, "Conduct is more convincing than language." We knew that our parents loved us; the words just were never spoken.
Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz reminds us of a girl counting flower petal, "He loves me, he loves me not," is actually asking, "What is love? What kind of love?"
Steinsaltz continues: "What does each of us mean when we speak of love? When we say, "I love you," "I hate you," "I want to marry you," "I want to be your friend," I curse kGKod," "I bless God," "I praise," "I blaspheme"--we are using words that, in many cases, we do not really understand."
Barbara Bush ("Reflections - Life After the White House") writes about reading part of "Chicken Soup for the Soul." She writes that while we are apt to be polite and kind to strangers and friends, do we sometimes forget our husbands and wives...and take them for granted. "Do we remembr to say, 'I love you'? We are grateful and we do love, but maybe we are just out of the habit of telling people. Shouldn't children hear and see love and kindness at home?"
Mrs. Bush tells the story of the wife who told her husband that she was leaving him after 35 years of marriage. "The husband was shocked and asked, 'Why?' The wife answered that in thirty-five years of marriage he had never once told her that he loved her. He said, 'Now wait a minute. I told you the day that we were married that I loved you and that I would tell you if I ever changed my mind!"
And, for a really touching story: A wife, after 21 years of marriage, tells her husband to take another woman out to dinner and a movie. She said, "I love you, but I know this other woman loves you too, and she would love to spend some time with you
The other woman was his MOTHER, who had been a widow for 19 years, but the demands of the son's work and three children had made it posssible to visit her only occasionally. That night he called to invite her to go out for dinner and a movie.
The mother was the type of woman who suspects that a late night call or a surprise invitaiton is a sign of bad news.
"I thought that it would be pleasant to spend some time with you," he responded. "Just the two of us." She thought about it for a moment, and then said, "I would like that very much."
That Friday after work, the son drove over to pick her up. He was a bit nervous ("nervez"). When he arrived at her house, she also seemed to be nervous about the "date." She waited in the doorway with her coat on. She had curled her "hor" and was wearing the dress that she had worn to celebrate her last wedding "yortog" (anniversary). She smiled a face that was radiant as an angel's.
"I told my friends that I was going out with my son and they were impressed," she said, as they got into the car. "They can't wait to hear about our meeting."
They went to a restaurant that, although not elegant, was very nice and cozy. The mother took her son's arm as if she were the First Lady. After they say down, the son read the menu. Her eyes could only read the large print. Half way through the meal, the son saw Mom sitting there staring at him. A nostalgic smile on her lips.
"It was I who used to have to read the menu when you were small," she said.
"Then it's time that you relax and let me return the favor," the son replied.
During the dinner, they had agreeable conversation - nothing "umgeveyntlekh" (extraordinary), but catching up on recent events of each other's life. They talked so much that they missed the movie.
As they arrived at her house later, she said,"I'll go out with you again, but only if you let me invite you." The son agreed.
"How was your dinner date? "the wife asked when he got home.
"Very nice. Much more so that I could have imagined."
Some time later, the son received an envelope with a copy of a restaurant receipt from the same place she and her son had dined. An attached note said: "I paid this bill in advance. I wasn't sure that I could be there, but nevertheless, I paid for two plates - one for you and the other for your wife. You will never know what that night meant for me. I LOVE YOU, SON."
At that moment, the son understood the importance of saying in time: "I LOVE YOU" and to give our loved ones the time that they deserve. Nothing in life is more important because these things cannot be put off till "some other time." (author unknown)
My adult son, Jonathan, keeps reminding me that I should SAY "I LOVE YOU" to the ones that matter. And so, Howard, Matthew, Jonathan, Daniel, Teri, Jori, Shane, Connor, Amanda and Scott, "I LOVE YOU."
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