I am 68 and I am still learning about love. When I was
younger, I loved most everything. I loved chocolate
sundaes, dancing, my new typewriter and also included
in my loving list were my parents, my husband, my children,
and my pets. I loved each day, and the busyness of it, and
I loved filling it with challenges. "I love this," I would say
easily. And then the next minute, I would love something
else also. There seemed no limit to the loving. It came
so easy and there was so much to love.
But now I am more careful about my love supply. I know
what it is like to love and lose a partner. The loving
becomes painful. I know what it is like to love and lose
a friend. The loving leaves an ache somewhere inside
me. I know what it is like to make a mistake about
those I loved. Perhaps they do not deserve this gift I offer...
I have wasted my love, thrown it away, misplaced it, used
it, and misused it. And often when I think it has gone
forever, love surprises me by returning, stronger then
ever and with a larger supply. As if it were off somewhere
preparing for the shortage.
I know I would learn something if love could answer a
few questions. One would be, "Where do you come
from when you enter without knocking, and where do
you go when you leave without warning?" "How do
I keep you by my side?" I see love in people my age
as they crochet afghans for their children, stitching
their love into a pattern. I see it in hours spent waiting
for a telephone call, a visit, a loving reminder that they
are needed. People fall in love and out of it, love
desperately, love eternally. The words, "I love you,"
can shake a dynasty, affect worldly decisions, change
one's lifetime. At this end of my calendar years, I know
no more about love than I did at the beginning. Except
that I dare not be without it.
I was recovering from a stomach virus at my daughter's
home. And feeling quite sorry for myself. Television
annoyed me. I was impatient with well-wishers on the
telephone. I didn't want to look out the window and
watch other people enjoy the day. I thought of all the
bleak things I could remember and piled them up in
front of me. One day passed into two. Reading material
lay scattered on the bed, but remained ignored. I had
more important matters to attend. Self pity was one
of them. I felt old, spent, used up, discarded, and
mean. I was angry at my body, at my age, at all the
things I hoped yet to do but couldn't, at the energy that
played tricks on me, and at the unpredictability of life.
Such as a virus coming in, attacking without warning,
and claiming victory.
On the third day, as I lay on the pillow, realizing I felt
better and yet, unwilling to reenter life's merry-go-round
with all the responsibilities waiting for me, a paper
airplane glided into the room and landed beside me
on the bed. I looked up. The room was empty. I picked
up the airplane and inspected it. A message written on
its wings, said, "Get well soon Grandmom. I love you. Ryan."
I heard activity outside the room. A snowstorm was
brewing. Everyone was in the attic getting out sleds
and boots. I left the bed and walked toward the doorway,
carrying my paper airplane.
It was time to reenter the world. Love led the way.