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 Vol. 5, No. 12 

December 2003

Priscilla's Page *Editor's Note*

~ Page 16 ~

The First Time I Ever
Said, "I Love You."

By Marilyn LaStrape

Image "I love you" were three words that were never spoken in the house when I was growing up. We all knew that we were loved and loved each other, but it was never said; it was simply "understood." There were nine of us in our family. We lost a sister when she was a toddler. I am the eldest of six siblings, three girls and three boys.

When I left home over 30 years ago, I had never said, "I love you" to my mother, father, brothers or sisters. I decided when I married and had a family, things would be different in my home. The words "I love you" would be heard on a somewhat regular basis. I wanted my children to hear as well as feel and know they were loved. I wanted them to feel comfortable saying "I love you" and hearing "I love you." I wanted them to respond to hearing those three words as naturally as they responded to hearing their own name. I have two sons and I am proud that they can say "I love you" with ease.

I had been away from home for years before I ever said to my mother "I love you," and to my surprise, she very easily said she loved us too referring to my husband and children. My father was very sick one time and I told him that I loved him. He was so astounded that he could not say anything. Both of my parents are dead now and after 30 years, my husband and I moved back home. I decided that I would start to build the bridge that said, "I love you" with my brothers and sisters.

The first time I said "I love you" to my middle sister, she just said, "oh no" and made a face, but she did manage to say that she loved me too. A few weeks later, my youngest sister was visiting and as she was leaving I said, "I love you," and her reaction was very similar to our other sister's response.

I gave a party at my home for my youngest sister's 50th birthday; all six of us and several other relatives were present. I took that opportunity to see what my brothers' reaction would be when I said, "I love you." I wanted to say it when each one of them was away from the other two.

My first chance came with my middle brother. He was in the back yard with my sisters and several other relatives. I walked up to him, put my arm around his waist, and said, "I love you." He was so taken back that he said he would have done a lot better with me being angry with him than for me to say that I loved him! He said, "Does this mean that my time is drawing near?" His response gave us all a good laugh!

When I approached my eldest brother, all of us were in the living room getting ready for my sister to open her gifts. I told him that I wanted to take a picture with him and as we posed for the picture, I said, "I love you." He responded with a long "Hum." Everybody just roared with laughter and began to mock his response!

When my youngest brother came in where we all were, I walked up to him, put my arm around him and said, "I love you." He looked at me, and said, "Me too!" and burst out laughing -- so did everybody in the room!

Those moments were priceless because they were spontaneous and totally unexpected on my brothers' part. It was the LAST thing that they ever would have thought to hear me say to them then or ever!

Every chance I have had since my husband and I moved back to my home area, I have been looking for ways to tell my brothers and sisters that I love them. There have been several opportunities in the past several months.

Within two weeks after our arrival, I told them that I wanted us to have a professional picture taken; we had never had that done. I asked them to dress formal for the photo. Oh, they pretended to moan and groan, because I as the eldest was "making" them get all dressed up to come to a studio on a Saturday. Saturday in their minds was their day off to do what they wanted to do, and taking a family portrait was not high on their agenda for that day.

Their moaning and groaning was all very superficial because when we arrived at the studio, we all took great delight in telling one another how good we looked! That all said, "I love you." We had such a good time having the various poses taken and then choosing which ones we wanted; that was a way of saying, "I love you." When the pictures came back, not one of them turned down their copy of that family photo. It was a tangible that said, "I love you."

I recently had a slumber party at my home with my two sisters. Can you imagine three women 50+ staying up until 3:00 o'clock in the morning just laughing, talking and eating? It was still another way to say to them, "I love you."

 My middle sister recently moved, and our three brothers and I helped her move. I cooked for everybody since my sister had told me she did not want me in the way -- she had all the help she needed from our brothers! It was said in good humor and I took it that way. In spite of what she said, I did help with some of the packing. I had decided to prepare a meal at my home for all of us after the move was completed. I cooked a meal our mother had prepared quite regularly when we were all still at home. It was like having her with us again. My youngest brother ate so much he could barely get up from the table! We all enjoyed the meal and being with one another again. It was one more chance to say, "I love you."

The six of us have taken several trips together and these were all occasions to say, "I love you" and I want to be with you. The five of them are professional racecar fans; I am not. However, I went with them to a professional drag race because it gave me another opportunity to say, "I love you." We had a wonderful time! I had asked my eldest brother to bring one of his stadium seats for me to use, and to my surprise, he bought me one! They had to explain to me in every aspect the rules of drag racing and they really enjoyed teasing me about my ignorance of this sport, but they were more than willing to tell me what was going on. It was a way for them to tell me that they loved me.

I realize that it will be a long while before they are all comfortable with hearing and responding to "I love you." My sisters are getting better all the time; my brothers, well let's just say we are working on it. My youngest brother finds it easier to respond even though he still sometimes says, "Me too." With my eldest and middle brothers, it is going to take a little more time.

Love is the strongest emotion in the world because God is love, "He who does not love does not know God, for God is love" (1 John 4:8). I realize that family love is totally different from the love that we are to have for him, but it is so important because God created the family.

Our Lord taught us best what true love is when he said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34-35).Image

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