“The stars may fall, the rains may pour,
But I will love you evermore,
‘Cause you were born.”
My wife deeply loved her paternal grandmother. I never met the woman; she died before I had the chance. But speaking of her grandmother, Barb has told me more than once that “she just always seemed happy that I’d been born.”
If there’s a better legacy a parent or grandparent could leave the fragile little ones who grow under their care, I don’t know what it is. When we find someone who can love us in such a simple but profound way we have a decent shot at happiness. But if that little cubby of our emotional closet isn’t filled, nothing else compensates.
This week one of our daughters visited with her two young children. The oldest just turned two and is discovering the joy of language. I held her in the crook of my arm as we explored together the front of our refrigerator.
She spotted pictures of me, and of grandma, and her own mother, and several of her cousins and aunts and uncles. And there were even a couple of pictures of her. She seemed very proud of that.
Someday when scientists sift through the rubble of our civilization, they will search for clues about the way we survived and thrived. I can save them a lot of time. If they really want to know what was important to us, they need look no further than our refrigerator doors.
Refrigerators doors don’t lie. Nobody puts anything on their refrigerator that isn’t important. You can tell a lot about a person by what’s on the front of their fridge.
Many families keep scrapbooks for the details, but for the latest family headlines refrigerator doors work just fine. Our own refrigerator is a sloppy, magnet and scotch tape smothered collection of family portraits, vacation pics, souvenir trip magnets, and quotes from a variety of deep thinkers from Mother Teresa to Miracle Max. There’s also plenty of artwork, though I use the term loosely.
Here’s the truth: When you’ve made it to the front of someone’s refrigerator, you’ve made it. Anyone who puts your picture next to the ice dispenser is glad you were born.
I’ve known people who don’t feel any particular need to let their loved ones know how deep their love runs. They assume their friend, child, spouse or parent just somehow “knows.” This is a grave mistake. It’s not my (the child’s) job to know if you love me or not. It’s your job to tell me, in no uncertain terms, with absolute unshakable conviction that YOU love ME.
Otherwise, how will I know? I mean REALLY know, in that deep down, set in concrete, fixed eternally in a nuclear bomb-proof shelter kind of way that no matter what happens, through fire, rain, and poverty in all its forms, I will always be able to turn the crank and pull up a fresh bucket of renewing love from the depths of your soul’s well?
How you show me is up to you. But however you do it, whether you use the language of words, or the language of actions, or creativity, or a combination of them all, you have to do it in a way that I will instinctively understand.
Fortunately, the task is not as daunting as it seems. Our children come to Earth already able to speak the language of a gentle touch and the spontaneous warmth of a smile when our eyes meet. But when they get a little older, don’t take chances. Give them more. Give them a place on the refrigerator, and update their little personal memorials whenever you can.
Give them a million reasons to confidently know that in a world of coldness and anger, you will always love them—not for their achievements, but simply because they exist.
Some homes have modern stainless steel refrigerators with doors that are shiny and beautiful but empty. I shouldn’t judge, but I can’t help wondering if there isn’t someone who would sleep just a bit better at night knowing their picture is taped to that shiny door?