Without saying a word, without buying a gift or sending flowers, he sent the message loud and clear.
This is not to say I don’t love gifts and flowers and -- gotta say it here -- chocolates -- from those trying to send their love. There are times of the year when anything less might leave one feeling somewhat ... missed.
Perhaps card and flower and chocolate sellers have made it that way, but there is good reason to play the game, if only to take advantage of the chance to make what might be assumed, understood.
But sometimes, in some ways, from some people, it is possible to send that message in ways simpler but just as meaningful.
I love being loved by a three-year old. It somehow means you’re OK.
A smile of delight in greeting from a one-year old sends the message loud and clear. A snuggle on the shoulder is how you know a six-month old thinks you’re fine. A five-year old might tell you she never wants you to leave or pray about how much she loves you.
And it is sweet. And yes, I have four grandchildren and love takes on a whole new meaning when your very own children have their own very own children.
I suspect that something about the way these little people love me has come about from the way I love them.
I love them genuinely, deeply, unconditionally, and perhaps they’ve noticed.
I’ve tried to show it in ways somewhat similar to the ways they’ve mastered -- with smiles, with hugs, with words, with time, by sharing.
The best way to feel love from someone is to first feel love for them.
This is perhaps easier where grandchildren are concerned, but necessary also in other relationships.
And other relationships can benefit -- and sometimes significantly -- when love is not just understood, but expressed.
So here’s the thing: If three- and five- and one-year olds can send love without thinking or planning or spending, we can too.
This is not so much to suggest how.
This is to suggest it’s possible and desirable and each of us would do well to give it some thought and come up with a person-specific method for the message, which may vary according to day and time and event and need.
The sweetest, most profound example of a message of love is told in story form in O’Henry’s Gift of the Magi.
A new bride sacrifices her most precious possession to get enough money to purchase a Christmas gift for her husband and his most precious possession, only to find he has sacrificed his most precious possession to purchase her a gift for her most precious possession.
You’ll need to read it for the details (and for clarification -- sorry -- too quick a synopsis), and to enjoy O’Henry’s beautiful prose, but it illustrates the most meaningful gift of love: sacrifice.
That’s when you cry in the theater or over the book or the story, when you see someone sacrifice something in a show of love.
It is beautiful and significant and meaningful.
So do the obligatory flower and chocolates thing on Feb. 14 (tomorrow!!) (it’s not too late!!), then look for less expensive but just as obvious things to do at random times throughout the rest of the year.
Bring beauty and significance and meaning into your relationships.
Because with a message so important, one day out of a whole year isn’t near enough.