In the summer after my sophomore year of high school, my grandfather died. Papaw LaGrange lived across the road from us, and I thought he would live forever. He had always been there when I opened the door to their house with a cheerful greeting. "Hey, Sister Sue!" he would say. He joked that he couldn't remember all the granddaughters' names so he just called us all Sue. It did not occur to me to appreciate the sound of his voice until it was gone. My papaw died without my ever telling him that I loved him. While my parents were faithful about telling us they loved us kids every day, I did not hear my grandparents ever say those words to my parents or to any of the grandchildren. Maybe it was generational--maybe during the depression, love was more action and less talk.
But when Papaw died, I felt such guilt because I had failed to say the words to him. It is a regret I still carry. In that moment, I made a vow to myself that I would not let that happen again. Soon after, I told Mamaw LaGrange that I loved her, and she responded, "I know you do, honey." Once in awhile, she would answer, "Thank you." It makes me smile to think of it. Hers was definitely a love of action.
I tell my kids I love them every single day. But rest assured it's not all sunshine and sweetness in my house. Some days, they are told for the hundredth time in a less than kind way to PUT AWAY THE LAUNDRY for heaven's sake! We end the day with "I love you" though, and I hope with more love than discord in our home. One of the things that we do as a family is watch TV together. (I know...we should read books, and I have appropriate levels of guilt over this.) We have family shows that are Bishop traditions, such as Survivor, and for Mia and me, Grey's Anatomy. I will close with the wise words of Meredith Grey, words that ring truer than ever in January 2021.
"Did you say it? 'I love you. I don't ever wanna live without you. You changed my life.' Did you say it? Make a plan. Set a goal. Work toward it. But every now and then look around. Drink it in. 'Cause this is it. It might all be gone tomorrow."