Through all of Kramer’s cancer we have both been trying to deal with the wide range of emotions that comes with this. Everything is so much more and so much bigger.
Let me start this story back a little further….back to my childhood…back to Kramer’s childhood.
I grew up in a family that wasn’t big on emotions. Once I went to school I don’t ever remember getting a hug. I don’t ever remember being told that I was loved. Really, that never bothered me. I knew I was loved. I knew my mom and dad cared for me. I didn’t ever think anything different. I thought that was how life was.
I can vividly remember my older sister having a baby. Mom, Dad and I went to the hospital to see the baby. My main memory of the whole event was that my dad kissed my sister on the cheek. I don’t remember the baby. I don’t remember anything else about the event other than my Dad kissing my sister on the cheek.
Affection like that was so rare in my family. That simple kiss on the cheek was memorable.
When I went to college my roommate thought this was odd (didn’t you Lori??) She was very encouraging of me to tell my mom that I loved her. Honestly, I thought Lori was weird because she did told her parents and grandparents she loved them. She always was hugging them when they came for a visit. It was just weird to me.
Honestly…I didn’t feel any less loved that our family wasn’t affectionate, but it really bothered Lori.
Later I met Kramer… He came from a house much like mine. His parents weren’t affectionate. They didn’t say “I love you”. But, like me, he knew his parents loved him.
So fast forward to present day. I regularly tell the kids I love them. I am an occasional hugger. I don’t hug the kids every time I see them but if the occasion warrants a hug, I hug them. When I do hug them, they know I don’t do it a lot so it’s meaningful.
Kramer, as you might suspect, is not a hugger. He doesn’t hug the kids. He doesn’t say “I love you”. Because of that, in the beginning of all of this cancer stuff, it was a little awkward for the kids…and for him. Everyone suddenly wanted their feelings known. They wanted to say “I love you”…but frankly, after all these years, didn’t know quite how.
I’m sure there are some of you who can completely relate to all of this. I know some of you live this….I also know that others of you are like my roommate Lori’s family.
So…one day we were driving home from a trip to Lacrosse. I was on the phone talking to Kayla telling her the latest news about his upcoming plan. Kramer was driving. Kayla said, “Tell Dad I love him…but if that’s awkward, just tell him ‘Drive Safe’ “. So I hung up with her and I said to Kramer, “Kayla says I’m suppose to tell you that she loves you…but if that makes you feel awkward, she says, ‘Drive Safe’.”
Kramer and I both bust out laughing. It was the ice breaker to the conversation of being more affectionate that we all needed. To be honest, it seemed like saying something as simple as “I love you”, was an elephant in the room.
We are a strong family who honestly will do anything for the others in the family…ANYTHING. We prove our love for each other daily. Our love comes through actions, gifts, long conversations, and in every other way except the actual three words, “I love you”.
So now that the ice is broken and the story of Kayla’s initial “Drive Safe” conversation has been spread to all of the other kids, things have changed around here.
Kramer and the kids are regularly now telling each other to “Drive Safe”. It’s so cute….all of them say it with a little giggle behind the words. Everyone knows what the words really mean, yet none of them say the real words. In a way…I love the words “Drive Safe” even more than “I love you”. For them, the words all have more meaning because they all know, it’s now the quick “I love you” so many people say without really thinking it through. “Drive Safe” has been thought through and is very meaningful to all of them. None of them say it without thinking about the words behind it.