It’s funny how sometimes something seeming very insignificant can catch your eye and hold your attention. Or your heart.
MP and I went on a bike ride yesterday in our beautiful city of Boise along the greenbelt. It is a paved path along the river and through some neighborhoods and animal sanctuaries and a favorite of many who live locally for a nature filled walk, a fun bike ride or a peaceful run. Yesterday was a perfect 80 degrees and people were out enjoying the sunshine, the companionship we’ve all been missing and the ability to do something outdoors.
I took a quiet break from our ride to sit on a large rock near the river and near a restaurant that had outside seating and live music. The breeze was adding a perfect addition to the sound of the river, laughter of children and the chatter of people enjoying life. As I sat, a mother and her two pre-teen’s and their two dogs came and sat nearby, allowing their dogs to play in the river. I noticed right away that the kids were respected by their mom. Conversation flowing easily and each being allowed their turn and opinion. After sitting a bit, a server from the restaurant across the path brought them a bag of what looked like an order they must have placed for take out. They quickly decided to sit there by the river and eat.
When they each opened their beautifully boxed lunch it was quickly discovered that the young boys burger had come with cheese, which based on the response was not his favorite. His mom asked if he wanted her to take it off or reorder the meal. While I didn’t actually hear the response I watched as his mom carefully took his burger apart and stated to take the cheese off his sandwich. Unfortunately it had melted quite nicely. The mom, meticulously started to wipe the cheese off line by line with her finger. She would run her finger across the top of the burger, scraping off the cheese, lick her finger off, then do the next area. This mom worked to get all the cheese off for about 5 minutes and at the end asked he son it it looked like something he would want to eat now.
I have to admit there is a small part of me that thought maybe he could have just eaten it with cheese, but I love cheese so that’s not a very fair request for someone who might not. I on the other hand do not like ketchup and have often found myself scraping my burger when its been added by mistake, so I felt his pain. What was intriguing to me was her care for his desire to not have cheese on his burger. She calmly and lovingly did what was needed to make that a positive experience for him.
And I thought, as I have many times recently, that love can look like a lot of different things and maybe from the outside, be missed as just an act of life.
This thought first came to mind as I sat on the patio of my Aunts house during a recent visit to her and my Grans home. I spent 10 days with the two of them, watching as my Aunt lovingly cared for my 93 year old Grandmother and her little dog. Over the course of those 10 days I saw the daughter help the aged mother with her showers, her meals, her daily meds and her worry. She answered the same questions throughout most days over and over and always looked with intrigue every time my Gran mentioned the beautiful cloud formations. She took Gran on rides to get us all out of the house for a bit all the while checking in to make sure Gran was always doing ok and always treating her with respect. I knew I was seeing something unique throughout the week as I witnessed what love looked like in action.
The day before I was headed home, the three of us sat on the patio in the warm afternoon sun as my Aunt gave my beautiful Gran a much needed pedicure. She brought warm water in a tub, carefully removed the polish off each toe, and then lovingly asked before each clip of the clipper if it was ok, while she removed the thickened, yellowed nails. My Gran watched with concern but was never hurt as my Aunt took her time, again checking with every single clip to make sure it wasn’t going to hurt. As I watched, I was overwhelmed by the act of love I was given the opportunity to witness. There was no eye role or cross word. There was no demeaning chide as my Gran worried. Instead there was just love. And on any other given day in their lives it would have gone unnoticed and unseen.
That’s how acts of love are most of the time I think. It’s the meal that’s cooked, the bed that’s made with care, the special note in a suitcase as one leaves for travel. How easy it is to see the large things, the showy things as love. But really, love is shown in all the small things. MP always says there are no small things, and as I witnessed with tears rolling down my face, it is the smallest of things, like clipping someones toe nails, that say someone is loved. Love is all those little things. All those day to day thoughts put into actions that remind us that love is a verb. It is what we do not just how we feel about someone or words that we say.
I thought back over my relationship with my Gran as I watched this fragile woman continue to try and navigate her existence with grace. She and I had a special bond. We shared a lot of life in common. She was a gentle soul that always made me feel loved and special. Her worn hands held my face everyday I was there as she reminded me how much she loved me. She told me never to forget. And I won’t because her unconditional love for me was so many times in her actions. Her little gifts tucked in my suitcase that I would find after spending time with her. Holding my hand as a 40 year old woman as we walked the beach together and shared our hearts. Walking my children to school when she came to visit when they were young. Sitting next to me as I painted, commenting on each aspect of the art I was creating. As I look around my home even now, there are traces of her everywhere. A note she left me in a watering can magnet 20 years ago. A little sign reminding me I am loved every day with Gran’s little signature at the bottom, a pencil drawn smiley face with curly hair in the ‘G’ of her name.
We lost my beautiful Gran just days after I returned home from that visit last month. I will cherish those moments with her forever and will be eternally grateful for being able to witness what love looks like in action. I feel blessed to have been a quiet observer of things recently that remind me that love is patient, love is kind and…love is a gift. Not only one we receive but one we give in many small, often unseen forms.
I am blessed to have known such love. Such unconditional love from a woman who was not raised being loved well. And yet, she loved others perfectly and wholly as they were. Thank you for your example of love Aunt Sue and thank you to Gran for always loving me unconditionally. I know you’re happy and healthy and enjoying so many you lost too early. So many here miss you and always will.
Until I see you again, I will remember always being loved by you.