The list of people I have loved as friends and family is long while the list of those who I have actually said it to is short. Is it important to verbalize it to someone? If you place it in the salutation of a letter shouldn’t the person know how you feel? If you show it in the form of a gift shouldn’t that be a clear sign how you feel? If you show it in a favor you do for them shouldn’t it be clear? If you put it in the form of the only love poem you have ever written to a woman, your wife, shouldn’t it be clear? Maybe not, there is a very thin line between love and friendship. Actually saying “I love you” makes it clear which side of the line you are on.
My grandfather on my dad’s side died when I was only nine. I loved him but I only saw him occasionally. My grandfather on my mom’s side died when I was twelve. I had seen him often and he had made a deep impression on me. He would take my brother and me on walks when we were young. My grandfather would give us wonderful presents at Christmas. He would lovingly call me “muscles”. Since I was thin as a rail I didn’t fully understand this. I didn’t have muscles and probably never would. It wasn’t important to me since I always sensed he meant it as a compliment. He said it as if he could see something great in me that nobody else could. I would always wait anxiously to see my grandfather again.
My grandfather was a strong, powerful man but he did have some health problems. He had some kind of problem in his leg and foot, eventually developing gangrene. The doctors were not sure what had caused it or how to cure it. They finally had to amputated the leg. He was given an artificial leg and was having a hard time using it.
I remember shortly after this my family, my grandfather and my grandmother went on a picnic. It think it was a church picnic. My grandfather was having a terrible time walking. Finally he got mad and went back to our car. Everyone was upset. My grandmother had a heart as big as anyone I have ever known. She knew just what to do. She told me to go to the car and tell him that I loved him. I did love him but I had never seen anyone in my immediate family say this. Eventually my grandmother and mom talked me into doing it.
I walked to the car and up to my grandfather and looked him in the eye and said “Grandpa I love you”. He grabbed me and gave me a big bear hug, breaking into tears. I watched as his tears carried away his pain. I watched as a strength I had never seen before filled him. He eventually learned to walk with his new leg. He even learned to drive a car.
What did I learn from this? I learned that “I love you” can have the power to heal the deepest wounds. I learned that taking a chance to open yourself to someone can be worth the risk. I learned that if I can’t love those near me how can I love a God who is reflected by each of them. By the way, I did find out what my grandfather saw in me. I did have muscles - they were in my heart, that was what he meant.
I love you grandpa!