AGE, LUCK AND LOVE
Eric Van Fossen
So with today being Valentine’s Day I awoke thinking about love.
This year I sent my parents a Valentine’s Day card. I sent it because of three things; age, luck and love.
You see, at my age I think we tend to realize we may have more room behind us than we have out in front of us. Personally I find it a little bit easier and even comforting to look back over my shoulder than to look up the road at my final destination. I can read the signs along the road. Looking back can be a wonderful thing as it gives us clearer vision for the road ahead. That is one reason I sent my parents a card for this Valentine’s Day. When I look over my shoulder I can clearly see just how lucky I have been to have these two people as my parents.
In the naiveté of youth we all assume that the way we have it, is the way everybody has it. But that naiveté eventually gets dissolved away doesn’t it? Mine got yanked away forcefully when I went to boot camp for the U.S. Navy. One of my buddies was a young black man from Columbus, Ohio. All of us “boots” were questioning our decision to join the Navy and go thru the boot camp experience. I had big dreams of learning nuclear power, being on a submarine and then getting out and having a good civilian job at a nuclear power plant. My buddy’s reasons were much more basic. He decided to join the Navy because the recruiter had promised him a bed to sleep in and three square meals every day. He signed up immediately as that was something he had never had.
So the way I had it was not the way everybody had it. I encourage you to take a moment and reflect on when you realized this fact. Perhaps you were someone that had it worse than others, but as a child I don’t know that you realized it. I can promise you this- regardless of how sad your story was; there was someone out there with a truly tragic story wishing they could have your life. There is always someone that has it better and some poor SOB that has it worse. We should be glad to be where we are. You don’t have to be content and accept it, but appreciate where you are on this continuum.
I was lucky to have the parents I have. I had absolutely everything I needed and most of things I could want. I never went hungry. I was never cold. I always felt loved.
One of things I wrote in the Valentine’s Day card to my parents was a thank you note. I thanked them for showing me how to love. Knowing how to love has got to be the biggest life lesson and gift that a parent can give to their children. I will admit that at times it can feel to be a curse rather than a gift. But that usually happens when we are receiving a lesson in love, the times when our concept of love is being forged. I had a crush my freshman year of high school that lasted two whole weeks and damn near killed me when it ended. But I learned. In hindsight it was a gift.
I have given love to those that didn’t deserve it. But perhaps those are the ones that needed it the most. Maybe they did not get the same gifts from their parents that I received. I can only hope that I was somehow a small blessing in their life even if they felt like a curse in mine. Perhaps the love you give to someone un-deserving of your efforts is actually being channeled through to someone else that truly deserves. This actually happened to me once. There was a collateral beneficiary.
Some gifts initially feel like a curse until you allow time to completely un-wrap them for you.
I have no fear of love. I am open to love. I am able to give love. I am able to be compassionate. I can cry when I am sad. I can tell another man, be it my father, brother, son or a buddy- that I love them. I am these things because of my parents.
I have love in my life. There have been times when there was no one to give it to other than my family members. But knowing that we have love in our hearts, always ready to jump into action is good enough. If there is love in your heart, then you can love yourself. If you can love yourself then you can give love to others. You have gifts to give, some just take longer to be un-wrapped than others.