May 13th, birthday gratitude entry:
Honestly, I just figured they didn’t love me. This vexed my soul, my mind. I had hundreds, maybe thousands but who’s counting, conversations in my head trying to make sense of our relationship. I wrote them notes, talked stuff out, and still felt the struggle among us.
“What’s wrong with me? Why am I not loveable to them? How can I show them I’m good enough? Where is our disconnect?”
And then it clicked.
I’m speaking Italian; they’re hearing thepeanutsteacherwawawawawa… they’re speaking German; I’m hearing ihavenoideawhatyouresaying. We’re speaking different languages.
My mother-in-law and father-in-law have always lived within a 5-8 minute drive from us. When the children were just wee little, I would call Pat and Dick frequently. It was not unusually for she and I to chat for an hour five times weekly.
Best. Listener. Ever.
She has cared so deeply about each and every one of her grandchildren. In those challenging toddler and teen years (as opposed to those challenging young adult years, hahahaha), I poured my guts out to her and she held my concerns and heartaches gently, almost with an expertise. She would stop over with a casserole and three more books for me on “how to parent your special needs child.”
Pretty cool, huh? I know. I didn’t realize it at the time – language barrier – but I understand now that I won the lottery in the married-into-his-family thing. Yay, me!
I realize now that I understand love as words of encouragement. You can buy me gifts out the kahflootz and I ain’t reading ya, but toss me a “thumbs up and way-to-go” and I’m high, as in “you like me, you really dooooo like me!” Further realizing that my in-laws are not natural encouragers helped me to see clearly. It’s not that they do not love, but that they do not love by using their words to encourage. When she stopped by with a casserole and books, I didn’t understand that this was her way of saying “I love you guys!”
Now when I enter relationships, I make an effort to find out how the other understands love, how they interpret love. I remember having a friend whose love language was gifts. As this is the lowest of the five modes of love on my personal list, I seldom gift. For years, this friend assumed I didn’t love her… which would befuddle me.. since I spent hours writing her notes and praying for her (words of affirmation; acts of service)… once I understood her language, I began relating to her in a way that she could understand and respond. I gave her gifts.
It’s almost like magic, really.
But all this is digression, because more than anything these two showed me Stick-With-It-ness. Just. Keep. On. They held space and continue to do so with a quiet patience, an unassuming humility.
They never ask us for anything. They are givers. Lovers, truly.
Pat has kept most of the cards all my children ever gave her. She posts them still. Her grandchildren are her most favorite of all aspects of her life. I don’t know my father-in-law well, but you can just see the happy-joy in his eyes when he’s around his grandbabes. It’s like each of my kids is Jesus walking around in skin, and walking on water at that.
My children have the best ever grandparents. We don’t have much as a Clan when it comes to possessions, but we sure do have an abundance of True Love and gobs and gobs and gobs of memories together.
Easter egg hunts
They have ALWAYS been there. ALWAYS. And I never doubt that they will continue to be there for us, without fanfare, without asking anything of us. They roll quiet and steady.
As I reminisce about the hours and hours we’ve spent together, I am much more clearly understanding that LOVE has many languages. Standing by my side, in the midst of the difficult times we all experience when raising our children, are Pat and Dick. More often than not, neither encourages with words… but I have had the privilege of experiencing encouragement without words, rather with steadfast never-gonna-leave-you-ever. Security. Stability. A quiet rah-rah.
I have had the absolute honor of meeting two people who have never wanted anything more than their son and his wife to enjoy life to the fullest as they experience parenthood, not one thing more than seeing their five grandchildren be embraced, loved, and live happy. Not one thing more.
I’m so very thankful to these two. They held space while I grew into a maturity to understand. Indeed, I have been loved all along. Underneath all those five love languages, there is yet a deeper Universal Love. And we were bound together in that Truth.
And this has made all the difference.
Patricia and Dick Glasier, I love you. So. Very. Much.
You. Complete. Me.
Much love & hope,