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Do we really see how we are loved?

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February 01, 2024 | NATIONAL Didymus McHugh, Correspondent

Recently, I have had some events happen that I did not expect. I had someone connect with me that helped my father with a medical emergency back in the 1960's, and I was reunited with a friend that helped me through a real rough patch in my life. 

I look at these two instances and I see different levels of love. The first was showing how a neighbor cared enough to help out a neighbor that they saw, which may have been injured even further. They cared for someone that they probably just waved to. The second became a friend and let me into his world, business, home and made me feel like family. He was also a brother firefighter and showed to me the love for another responder. He was compassionate enough to share what he knew would help me and he made sure that I was able to laugh.

How do you express love? My father served in Korea and came from a family that really did not show much emotions and that was passed to me a bunch. When he was getting older, I told him that I loved him and his way of telling me that he loved me was "why do you think I am here." To dad being present, spending time with you, was his way of him showing that he loved us. After all, he worked a full time job, came home and then went out to work as a waiter or maitre d at night, but he also had the fire department and police department. He worked all the long hours to show that he cared for the family, while he went with little. Who do you show love to? Do you show or express, somehow, to your family that you love them? How do you show children? Do you read to them, play, take them special places, buy them toys? How do you show your romantic interest that you love them? How do you show, do you show, perfect strangers that you care about your fellow person? Is it by helping an older person in with the trash cans, or shovel their sidewalk when it snows, or pick up groceries for them, or cut their lawn?

Do we love people as we should? Or could? Do we put up barriers to keep people away because we have been hurt in the past? Maybe we need to take down some barriers and risk getting hurt again. Yes, we may get hurt, but if we constantly have barriers up, we may miss getting to know many wonderful and special people.

I listen to many people. I am privileged to hear many people's stories and I realize that some ways people know that they are loved is when you give of yourself. You give your time and attention. You realize that that person, in that moment is the most important. You silence your phone and you are just present with the person.

When we are young and have a romantic interest, we may look in another's eyes for hours and not say a thing, but both feel the love. We can sit with our children and be present with them as they play an instrument or sing for a school concert or play.

I had people, who when I was sick and could not get out of the house, that came over and brought food or gave me a ride someplace. I had an ex-chief who would help me repair my vehicle or we would work on things and we would talk. A chief, that my son used to call Uncle Chief, went into the town where my son lived and made it a point to turn on the lights and sirens as he was passing my son. All these are ways of showing that we care for each other.

When we were growing up, we may have had some challenges with finances, but being loved was shown different ways. Dad showed his love by being the one that worked hard to earn money. My mother would pick up some favorite food for each person in the family. My grandmother gave us hugs and always sent us home with some of our favorite homemade food, even though she struggled also. Uncle Joe showed that he cared by visiting Sunday mornings and asking how your car was doing. My sister would goof around until we were chasing each other around the house.

When I know people who want to get married, I usually give them Gary Chapman's book the Five Love Languages. Dr. Chapman explains about the five ways people express love: words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, acts of service, and gifts. We need to look at not only how we know that we are loved, but we need to know how other people in our lives know that they are loved. Even if we try to figure it out, we should have the conversation with the other person to make sure. I think of it as trying to listen to a radio program or watch the television and you are on the wrong channel. I remember one time when we were teaching rappelling and we had the early headsets. I was on the top of the building and another person was on the ground. I was calling the person, but apparently the frequency was the same as a baby monitor and the mother was trying to figure out what was going on in the baby's room. 

Make sure that you have clear communications, not only expressing that you love others, but also look how people show that they care about you.

As my father would have said, why do you think I wrote this article.

Stay safe,

Didymus McHugh

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Didymus McHughCorrespondent

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