Every one of us matters: who we are, who we wish to be, what we know, and what we care about.
The question is, do we feel safe to voice any of that? Or are we riddled with fear about what others might think, do, or say in the face of us expressing ourselves at heart level?
I grew up in a family that didn’t talk about their feelings or express their love out loud; we didn’t hug or openly show affection. My mother died suddenly when I was 17 and we didn’t talk about our loss or how we felt. We maintained a “stiff upper lip”, soldiering on regardless of the circumstances. When I cried, I cried alone into my pillow so that no one would hear.
We didn’t talk much about how my grandmother, my mom’s mother, dropped into insanity because of her grief. She wept, she wailed, she raged, and she ranted at God and the fates that took her daughter. I never said anything, but I feared mightily that I had lost her as well. It took her three or four years to emerge from that darkness, though I know that she was left with a huge hole in her heart.
How relieved I was to have my Grammy Ed back, for we had always been close, we had always been buddies. My mother had encouraged our closeness, almost as if she knew that she wouldn’t be around. Although we lived four hours away from each other, I visited her regularly on weekends and she came my way as often as she could.
In my own journey, I took the opportunity in my 20’s to participate in some personal growth work. It opened the doors to feelings that had been buried deep inside, and I finally began to express myself as I discovered who I was and what mattered to me. I felt compelled to tell my grandmother how much I loved her, but I was scared. What would she say? What would she do? Nevertheless, the pressure built and I was determined to share my feelings the next time that I saw her.
It was a hot summer weekend when I drove from Calgary to Edmonton to visit. Grammy Ed and I always took part in Klondike Days, attending the parade in our Klondike finery and visited the fairgrounds. It was in a quiet moment at the fairgrounds that I blurted out that I loved her. Her whole being was infused with the most angelic expression. She blossomed like a flower in the desert while she shyly told me that she loved me too. It was heady stuff for a girl who had buried her feelings for so many years!
That small act deepened our relationship to the point of being able to share pretty much anything. I was 41 and she was 83 when her health and heart began to fail. She was rushed to the hospital and I stayed with her until her son arrived. The hospital called the next morning at 4 am. I knew that I might not make it in time, but as I drove, my heart was at peace; we had left nothing important unsaid.
Now, as an aging baby boomer with many tragedies and triumphs under my belt, I feel driven to encourage and inspire YOU to share what’s in your heart.