Show versus Show and Tell

As a kid, I ran away twice because of words not spoken.

After my mother died, my maternal grandmother took me back to Detroit to live with her and her daughter, my maternal aunt. My aunt had five children and supported us all by cleaning rich white folks houses as well as receiving ADC/Welfare. [Later, after I left home, she eventually got a full-time job at Chrysler]. My aunt was almost always shouting mainly because her two oldest sons, [especially the second oldest] were always doing something they should not. Though she never shouted at me, I found the shouting to be disturbing; I never got used to it. I never understood it.

Nonetheless, living with her was far more wonderful than living with my mother’s husband. I lived in utter fear of him. My mother and siblings and I were terrified of the man who eventually murdered her after beating her and us for ten years. Living with my aunt was like a paradise by comparison and she treated me as if I were one of her own — her shouting, notwithstanding. I cannot overemphasize how so much better living with her and my grandmother was by comparison.

But, while living with my aunt, I ran away twice. After the second time, she asked my why. I told her I did not think she loved me. She said just because she does not go around saying “I love you” doesn’t mean she did not. She was correct. Yes, living with my mother, I was her confidante. I was special to my mother; we suffered together at her husband’s hand [he would often torment us both at the same time while leaving my siblings alone]. She expected me one day to save her. I knew my mother loved me. True, my mother never told me she loved me; she demonstrated it — ultimately, dying because she did. Yes, if she had not loved me, and her other children, she could have grown old instead of being murdered at age thirty.

Indeed, my aunt loved me, too — the best way she knew how. She did not have to take me in after my mother died. She could have treated me differently than she did her own – but she did not. I was never mistreated, never neglected, never ignored. My aunt’s love was real and genuine — different from my mother’s but just as heartfelt.

Years later I was able to understand and appreciate this fact. It took hindsight for me to have insight. Sometimes time has to pass before we can understand the past. Ruth loved me and unfortunately it took growing up to realize that. Hers was a different generation. Not a generation that hugged and said, “I love you”. It was a generation that showed rather than told.

It is true that actions speak louder than words but the sound of words can be like the spices in a feast of good food. It is better to love both ways: show and tell. But one of them should always be the least one does if one does not do both.

Published in: on June 30, 2016 at 11:34 PM  Leave a Comment  
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How Sweet The Bitter Taste

A man lies in bed dying from an affliction for which there seemed to be no cure. He mumbled to himself that he would give anything to be cured. Suddenly, an old woman appeared and offered a solution to his predicament. She handed him an elixir that he had to take every day for the rest of his life. The potion would cure the ailment, and he would live an otherwise long and healthy life. There was one caveat, however.

Each time he took the potion, it would cause pain, and there was no way to avoid it. Sometimes the pain would be very brief or barely perceptible; at other times, it would be much longer or excruciating. The duration and severity would vary depending on the circumstances. But, he would be alive and otherwise healthy. If he stopped taking it, he would definitely suffer, wither and die an arduous death.

The man agreed to swallow the potion but just before he did, he asked the old woman what was the potion. She replied, “Love.”

So goes it. Life is best lived if we love, whether we love a child, a sibling, a parent, a spouse or friend. We are genetically structured so that loving someone is what we need to do to be fully human – to express the meritorious side of our humanity. Loving someone, however, comes with a price. We expose ourselves to pain; in fact, we invite it. Pain caused by the one we love scraping her knee as a child or failing to be put in the high school homecoming game. Pain caused by the one we love being mistreated or being disappointed. Pain caused by a loved one’s broken heart or unrequited love. Not to speak of the pain caused by the one we love being sick or dying.

We love; therefore, we feel for – we empathize with – the people we love. It is almost as if we feel what they feel – sometimes even more painfully. But to stop loving is to stop living (though not necessarily to stop existing). So, we drink the potion completely knowing we will suffer pain, later or sooner. So, we drink the potion and choose the pain of loving over the pain of not loving.

Published in: on December 1, 2015 at 7:44 PM  Leave a Comment  
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