Who taught you how to love?
October 2, 2018

Before the Internet I learned a lot from advice columns in newspapers. One story broke my heart. It was about a woman whose mother and father “came from undemonstrative families with parents who never showed any affection” and never told her she was loved.

When this woman was nine, she stayed overnight at a girlfriend’s house. The girlfriend’s mother kissed them both goodnight as she tucked them in. The gal was so moved by the gesture she couldn’t sleep. “This is the way it is supposed to be,” she thought. She was angry at her own parents for a while. Then she decided to do something about it.

“I began kissing my mother so often,” she wrote, “that I got her to laugh about it. I married at seventeen and had two children before I was twenty. I kissed them until their little cheeks were red. When I talked to my mother on the telephone I would say, ‘I love you, Mom.’ After a while she finally said, ‘I love you, too.’ I’d never heard her say that before. After a few weeks, when I’d go to see Mom, she would say, ‘Where’s my kiss?’ When it was time for me to leave, she’d say, ‘I love you. You know that, don’t you?’”

When the woman’s mother died she had a stash of letters from her professing that love. Can you imagine how much she cherishes it?

It isn’t easy to show affection to someone who’s stingy with it. To force kisses on your mom when you aren’t getting any back? And you’re nine?

How brave.