HOW TO SAY ‘I LOVE YOU’
The speaker was good looking, if you’re into good looking. (Personally I’m into kind of fat, unattractive blokes as they not only tend to have more personality but they also make you feel slim.)
Armed with the bravado of youth, the speaker alleged that with scientific intervention humans may one day be immortal. His thoughts reminded me of a line by Susan Ertz: ”Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.”
Talk finished, I bumped into a normally frighteningly bubbly acquaintance in the foyer. Uncharacteristically flat and approachable she abruptly burst into tears. (Was it something about the way I said ‘hello?’)
“Mum passed away last week,” she said.
“Oh you must have found the speaker’s words very unsettling,” I sympathised.
“No, I’m actually upset at my own lack of words, because I never told Mum that I love her.”
“Oh my God,” I gasped judgementally, until I realised I’ve never told my mum either.
I think it’s a problem specifically between my generation and our parents. In contrast, my generation’s expression to our own children is so effusive it’s almost vomitous.
I pretty much tell my children I love them every time we speak, even when reprimanding my son for putting his rubber wetsuit in the clothes dryer. My children tell me every day too. During the six years of my daughter’s adolescence, when I’m pretty sure she was possessed by the devil, my daughter consistently said “I love you” though sometimes I suspected it’s because she wanted cash.
But women like me have never told our mums. Should we blame ourselves? I’ve often thought that you never really know someone until you divorce them. For this reason, in a perfect world, I think couples should get divorced before they marry. In the same vein I wonder if I wouldn’t have made a better, more expressive daughter if I could somehow have been a mother first.
But is the lack of emotional expression really my generation’s fault? Or is there no fault at all?
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