Throughout my life, I have told whoever would listen to me, over and over again, that LOVE IS THE ANSWER. And if you’re lucky, love is always in your heart and on your mind all the time. Not just for one special day a year, but every day of the year.
I grew up with a brother and two sisters and parents that I know came straight from heaven! We had a farm house kitchen with a big table in the middle. My father sat at the head of the table and my mother to his left. It was only much later when I figured out that the seating arrangement was strategic so that both of them could reach us if we needed a “slight tune up.” That was before it was politically incorrect to smack a kid if they needed it.
We lived in a three story brown stone building in Chicago that my mother managed. Students who attended the Art Institute and other universities, lived in the building and every one of them were drawn to my parents. For most of them, it was the first time they left their home. Because most came from other states, I know that they longed for the feeling you can only get from being surrounded by a family, anyone’s family! My siblings and I got more than our fair share of love from these kids too.
Our house was rarely quiet. It was filled with love and laughter and my mother always had room for one more! My father made the best coffee in the world and everyone stopped by for a cup. My father was an amazing story teller and he would tell us stories each night at dinner and we would tell our stories about school, sports, and anything that crossed our minds. We were allowed to speak our minds which always confounded my grandfather. He was from Scotland and I think he may have invented the saying, “Speak when you are spoken to!”
My husband grew up In Salzburg Austria, on a farm with his mother Anna, and his brothers, Felix and Andres. His life was filled with fields of wheat, animals, helping harvest and he drove a tractor before he was 10. He asked me for a tractor every Christmas for 47 years! Near the end of WW II, an American soldier came walking up the hill to their farm. He was carrying a rifle and he spoke in perfect German. My husband’s mother was terrified and thought he was going to kill her. She said, “If you are going to kill me, please kill my children because there is no one to take care of them.” The soldier explained that the war was ending and gave my husband and his brother chocolate and both of them were thrilled!
The first time my husband ever met my family was on a Sunday after church and he was amazed. My father always made French toast for lunch and Sig had never eaten that before. He proceeded slowly asking for one piece at first, but eating six pieces in the end! When we left, he asked me, “Is it always like that at your parent’s house?” I asked, “Like what?” Everyone’s talking, laughing and hugging each other. I say, “Yep, it’s always like that, we’re a big happy family”.
The things that mean the most to us, and the things we think about most always evoke the feelings of love. I love flowers of all kinds, but the nicest flowers I know of did not grow in a garden, they grew inside of me. You see, my children are my flowers and they are everything to me and the best flowers I ever received. It wouldn’t matter what time of day any of them call me. I am always thrilled to hear from any of my children. I listen to the tales of their children and now of my grand and great grandchildren. That will never get old to me.
When my kids come to visit me, or I go to them, I ask them to turn the television off and ignore their phones. It is so rare to get my children all together at once, and for that short time we’re together, I do not want to compete with the TV or someone’s phone. I want to relish every second of our time together. Because in the end, it is all these memories we store in our minds that nurture and comfort us no matter what your age.
The love of my life has been gone over six years. Luckily, I married my best friend and our marriage was a match made in heaven. I still write to him and feel him around me all the time. I will love him for the rest of my life. He does not have to be present for me to do that. I always end my letters to him by saying, “I’ll see you in my dreams,” and I do.