Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Actions and Words

Dear Jules,
Actions, the proverb goes, speak louder than words.  Or, to put it in a more new-age way, there are a number of "love languages," and not everyone expresses their love in the same way.

The older I get, the more truth I see in both of these statements.

Words are great- I adore words, I write about words for a living, I study words until I have sucked every possible meaning out of them. Right now, words are important to us because you still don't have too many of them (not spoken words, anyway) and find it difficult to communicate.  How else do we make our ideas into realities?  How else to we put substance to our thoughts?  I know that some scientists argue that we think in pictures, but words, to me, seem incredibly important.  After all, writes Arika Okrent, "We may be able to think without language, but language lets us know that we are thinking."  In other words, our thinking without language wouldn't be self-reflexive or even as self-conscious.  I wonder what, and how, you are thinking, what's going on in your head that you can't yet express, and I pray for words to come.

And yet words are, ironically, not enough.  Words are, in many ways, easy:  it's easy to tell someone you love them, write effusive letters, or say that you will be there for someone, but acting on these words is much more difficult.

I have a few examples of this, the first one being you yourself.  Like I said, you don't have many words, but every night, you try to put me to bed, you caress my face, you turn on music and try to cover me up, and I know, beyond certainty, how much you love me.  I actually know this just by how your face lights up when I come into the room.

Your Aunt Diane regularly sends you postcards.  Now these postcards do contain words, but they could really say nothing.  The point is that she sends you one almost every week, that she has thought of us in the midst of her busy life, that you are a priority to her.

My father, your grandfather, was not what I would call an emotionally effusive, mushy person.  I don't often remember him telling him he loved me or hugging me spontaneously (although he was more demonstrative toward me than toward my brother).  Yet if anything ever went wrong with my car or with my brother's car, he would spend hours, sometimes in the pouring rain or in the snow, fixing them.  He drove to my college if I needed anything (I'm a space cadet and sometimes left my violin at home), and both he and my mom drove up to your uncle Julius's college, six hours away, in the middle of the night, when he had an accident.

To fulfill another cliché, I married someone kindof like my dad in that your Daddy is very private with his feelings, doesn't like to use a lot of words to express what he's thinking, and doesn't want to make a show of things.  In fact, I'm not putting this post on Facebook because I know it would embarrass him.  And yet, he does these things that show his love all of the time: small things, like cleaning the house when we were in Europe or getting food when I'm too busy with work.  Most recently, I went to Utah for a conference but really struggled through it because I was sick.  When I came home, this is what I saw:

He picked out the kinds of soup I love most so that I wouldn't have to worry about cooking.  A small, but thoughtful gesture, that really shows love and care.

And so while words are important and we have been pushing you to learn them lately, we want you to know that actions are an equally, if not more, viable love language.  Here we are together at the Boone Hall pumpkin patch, expressing our love for each other:

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