One of life’s most interesting lessons is learning how other people administer their love to you. Couples struggle because they don’t speak the same love language. She wants words and comfort and attention and a thoughtful gift now and then and he wants warm food, regular oil changes, and sex….not necessarily in that order. Children can misinterpret consequences for not caring and parents confuse indulgence with love. The trick, then, is figuring out how your actions will manifest themselves into gestures, actions, and gifts that adequately communicate “I love you” in a way your intended recipient understands.
More than once I have heard people say of a seemingly odd gift or gesture given with the best of intentions, “Doesn’t (fill in the blank) even know me?”
But, speaking another person’s love language can be uncomfortable, hard, and mystifying.
For instance, I know my dad loves me and my family because he gave us a tractor. I don’t really need or want a tractor. The six acres we own is not ripe for plowing, and neither man in my little family of four is great with motors of any kind. But now we have a tractor.
My dad’s story is embedded within this tractor. For every brush stroke of green and gold paint and every drop of oil and gasoline, for every part searched for and found, there is a little vignette of his life, a chapter to add to the book that is my dad. It is one full of hope and promise and sadness and rage. Mostly though, this tractor is physical evidence of a man whose spirit has triumphed over bitter disappointments. My dad still laughs, has innate curiosity in how different models of old tractors work, and his heart can be light, in part, because of his love for John Deere tractors.
I don’t need to tell you that my dad and I do not speak the same love language. We fail miserably at adequately conveying in real time what we mean to each other. He’s not afraid to tell me he loves me, but general conversation that is satisfying to us both can be hard.
We do accept, however, what we do have to give. Me with my observations and ruminations on this little blog, and he, his tractors, always his tractors. We are more alike than different. We wake up in the morning with a new way of fixing, creating, deconstructing, solving, polishing…be it words or antique motors, we are both looking for a way to make our mark on this planet last.
“Here, doll. This is what I could do for you,” is what I will think every time I see it.
Photo: This 1952 Model A might seem an odd sort of love letter, but it is infinitely better than no love letter at all.