Put love into more than words

Feb 6, 2014 By Betty Starks Case

How do you say "I love you?"

Is there a right way? A wrong way? A best way?

Or just a sincere way?

Many of us use the term quite generously these days. And while Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher observed, "At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet," we may have created more than poetry. We may actually have taught a few folks to let loose with "There! I said it!" freeing them to speak -- like the guy with "Low-T" in the television testosterone ad.

Seriously, maybe the upcoming Valentine's Day could become a great time for us all to think on ways we might show our love other than words. As a writer, of course I believe in the power of that medium. At the same time, we might become more aware -- and appreciative -- of the physical ways one can demonstrate caring.

Shall we start with the birth of a child? Writer Elizabeth Stone, quoted in Village Voice, says "Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."

Most parents would agree. With beginning love like that, we can, and likely will, journey in many directions, from the past to today, and far in the future.

A memory trip can add to our understanding of love.

When my mother was hospitalized for about two months following a near-death auto accident, Maureen, a young respiratory therapist, cared for her as lovingly as if my mother were her own.

One day Maureen asked, "How would you define love? Real love?"

I thought on the subject a couple of days before responding, "It's whatever you think it is."

I'd seen Maureen express the word "love" most beautifully herself, with her devotion to my mother, volunteering for overtime service, checking on her day and night. The single mother of two small daughters and dealing with heart problems herself, I doubt the word was ever more clearly defined.

And yet -- love has many faces. Long-married couples are often asked their recipe for success. To that end, I offer a few ingredients for women to consider adding to the marriage mix (with my own flippant twist).

1. When he asks, "Where's the mayonnaise?" go get it for him. He can be staring a hole in the label and still not find it.

2. If you want a hug, go get it. He's much more apt to wrap his arm around you when you reach for him than he is to hit you.

3. If you need help with the housework, ask him. Nicely. Say "please" and "thank you."

4. When he helps, don't despair that he's slung water in all directions. Men's muscles are accustomed to responding to shovels and golf clubs.

And here are a few ingredients for male consideration:

1. Don't fancy you were hired to issue orders. You may discover you're only vice-president. You've noticed how rarely they get to speak, haven't you?

2. Say "please" and "thank you." She'll probably do most anything for you. Don't just accept the fact that she looks especially good sometimes. Too often a man thinks if he compliments his wife she's likely to look at other men. A wise man knows a woman only needs outside approval if it isn't coming from the man she chose to live with.

3. Stop worrying about your thinning hair. I've seen more attractive women with bald-headed men than any other kind. There are better ways to use your hormones. She's more impressed when the hair is on your chest protecting a kind and caring heart.

As for my mate and I, we treasure love from each other, family and friends.

Son and Daughter moved away, and we miss them, but phone calls and e-mail keep us close between visits. Their generosity is endless.

Three loving brothers within a mile in any direction are the answer to this sister's dream.

Friends Mike and Diana drive us to numerous events in their comfortable Denali. We share lunches, laughter and love.

Friends Joe and Rose have moved to the country, but in heart they're always nearby. When it snows, they're here to clear our walks and driveway. When our newspaper delivery failed, I complained. Joe went and fixed our carrier's car so she could do the job.

I think I'll do better now.

The best Valentine lessons are learned from love in action.

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