Love Is a Verb

 -Joan Anderson
Love Is a Verb 
headshot1 Our son Luke, an amiable, earnest and heart-felt thirty something young man reduced everyone to tears while giving a eulogy at my mother's funeral.  During the early morning hours, prior to the service, we tried in vain to get him to sing as my mother was always moved by his beautiful tenor voice. But no, he had other ideas.
When his time came he walked up to the pulpit, leaned into the microphone, and with a devilish grin on his face, boldly announced that there had been a change in the program. He wouldn't be reading from Thorton Wilder's, The Matchmaker as the bulletin stated-instead he had something else to share. But share he couldn't as he choked on his grief and stood mute, biting his lip in hopes of regaining control. The congregation waited patiently, most moved to tears by the palpable emotions being exhibited by this young man.
When finally he collected himself and launched into a story he painted a picture of his grandmother, a woman made tough by her prize fighter and baseball player father.
"Do you know how my grandmother learned to swim?" he asked, looking out at the packed church, his voice exuding incredulous. "Her father-- my great grandfather-- tied a rope around her waist and threw her off a dock into 10 feet of water. I, on the other hand, just paid $500 for swimming lessons for my two boys who are only just learning how to blow bubbles, do something called cupping, and  kick their way across the pool with the help of foam boards."
Having now reduced the crowd to laughter, he continued on with a few more anecdotes that have since escaped me. However, his conclusion was a show-stopper. "I just want to say in conclusion that my Grandma pulled everyone she knew out of the water at one time or another." And with that climatic line and in a sense her unspoken legacy, he took his seat.
It occurred to me this Valentine's Day-a day of love-that we aren't meant to wait for love to come to us. Rather, like my mother, we are meant to participate in it. To relate is a verb-to love is to be active. Reciprocity is the operative word-give and take-back and forth.
And yet we live in a world of people who, as the song says, are "looking for love in all the wrong places." I remember when I was in grade school waiting as the Valentine Box was opened, hoping to find a pile of envelopes on my desk. The measure of how much we were liked or loved was all about quantity. But now, as adults, we are meant to grow beyond such childish ways and reach across myriad voids and blockades to touch someone.
Last night I attended a Valentine Party, the purpose of which was to bring underwear, socks, mittens, and toiletries which would be delivered to homeless women-women by no fault of their own fell out of shelter and onto the street.  No one would be delivering a Valentine to them. Not only are they unloved and out of sight but they have no address-no place to call home.
And so, as I drove home through the dark on icy roads I found myself asking:  "Who else can I extend love to this Valentine's Day?"  Or more to the point, who are each of us meant to pull out of the water now and again?
Visit our web site