“I Love You”

Three small words we all long to hear, yet, those same words are three of the most dangerous ever, ever, ever spoken.  And also . . . the most innocent.

Children prattle them, mothers croon them, women have lied for them and men have died for them. You have said them. Careers have been dashed by them. Kingdoms toppled.

All because someone whispered (or failed to say) that fatal phrase of “I love you.”

We all think we know what they mean. Yet they can mean, “I pledge you my undying devotion and want to spend the rest of my life with you.” While another one doing the whispering might just be saying, “You’re a real sexy gal, why don’t we spend the night together?”.

What a difference, but I bet we’ve all stumbled and cried over them, before we wise up to their thousands of meanings and learn to protect ourselves from getting hurt too badly.

First, there’s Eros love, where those words mean, “Hey, you’re alright, let’s spend the night/weekend/year/or who knows how long together.” That, my dearies, is when Cupid is at work and thank heavens, for without Cupid, there’d be no next generation.

But to complicate life, there’s Brotherly-Motherly love, which has not a smidgen of sex attached. But you’d better be certain, that when you say, “I love you” in a brotherly way, that your opposite one knows what you mean, for your partner might be in ‘the Cupid’ mood and you’re going to be in trouble. Trouble with a Capitol T.

And, vise versa, you’re in for a shock if Cupid is in your driver’s seat and your current partner loves you dearly, but in a wonderful brotherly manner. Back up, my loves, and fast. So, we better take a moment and ask yourself (him or her) just exactly what is being said.

Are you saying you’re ‘crazy’ about me? That you like me? That you like my tight fitting Levis? That you like to talk to me? Or is it, ‘The Big One’ and you really LOVE me”.

Sheesh! Me thinks we’d better either re-write the dictionary or start using new words.  Like for instance, I read where some innocent woman testified in court, as she sued for financial support for her child, born without marriage . . . ‘but he said he loved me.’

Poor Soul. I imagine even the judge smiled, for the man being sued, had probably also told several other women the same thing. As his mother, best friend, favorite wine, guru, and so on and on.

Those three words have been and can be pure tragedy. Helen of Troy told them to Paris (or was it the other way around?) and the Hellenic wars changed history. Cleopatra told them to Caesar and, when, because of the ramifications, he was killed; she whispered them with the same result, to Anthony. When he too was assassinated she took the hint, hurried out of old Rome as speedily as possible, back to her Egyptian home and in tears, ordered an asp be brought to her, and she killed herself. And left a deep scar on the old Roman and Egyptian World that still echos through the centuries. Innocent words? Think again.

Napoleon met his Waterloo, (and again changed the world) because Josephine’s last letter did NOT use those words. There was no phone or email to sooth his troubled heart, and so, in turmoil, lost his concentration toward his problems at the battle of Waterloo and that name, Waterloo is still used today for the havoc that can come from the mis-use of those three words.

So, as you can see, caution isn’t just for beginners, but also for those who’ve been around long enough to know better,  Bill Clinton would/could  have been right at Hillary’s side in her bid for the Presidency, if, yes, if he hadn’t used those three little words too often, and too many times, until he became unwanted anywhere near her campaign.  Otherwise,  his influence just might have been strong enough to have  tipped the scales and helped her attain The Presidency.

And then . . . . at the top of all forms of l love you . . .  there is Agape, spiritual love, but that is for another day . . . another time. Love a lot, but oh, ho, ho, love carefully. Eros, Brotherly, Agape. they take one’s breath away with their power, have changed many ones personal life to one of joy and bliss, but also with the wrong use, have and still can also cause changes that echo throughout personal lives, as well as the ages. Only three word, but oh, what power they have.

King Edward  8th abdicated from his English Throne and died a bitter man because he whispered those words to Wallis Warfield Simpson, and to her they had been and still were too often heard, and little heeded, and though they remained wed, ‘ tis said the union was a bitter one, and again history changed.

I love you. so sweet, so feared, so longed for, so dangerous. Be careful with them, in saying them and in heeding them. They can make you bless them forever, or to take your life into pathways you never wished to enter.

Gift Giving

Let’s make it really count this year . . .

Holidays always occasion a storm of gift giving. Expensive gifts, purchased at fashion marts of the world; cherished ones made by loving hands; and childish tokens to be treasured as long as life and memory last in the mind of the parent who received them. All are exchanged.

But, humanly, we often overlook the most wonderful gift of all, the gift of words and acts of love. We shy away from words that come from within, the true coinage of the heart. Strangely, we will sacrifice and go without to save money for a gift, yet will withhold the more precious gift that costs not one cent.

For it doesn’t take money to give of yourself. We all can give of warmth, hope and courage. We can all offer a shoulder for someone to shed a few tears, and there is not one among us who hasn’t at sometime also needed that understanding shoulder for our own tears.

We can give comfort to someone who is ill, disturbed or in sorrow. This also should be easy, for everyone—even you  and I have – – – and will probably again  be in need of love and encouragement.

These gifts may be difficult the first times you give them, for the words may be unfamiliar to your lips. But it takes so little time to pat your husband on the shoulder as he leaves for work, to tell him you understand how hard the day sometimes must be but that you love him for doing it for you and your children.

It takes so little time for a husband to put his arm around his wife and speak words of love to her. To tell her how much he loves her, the home she makes for him, the time she gives to prepare the food and to care for the children.

It’s such a little effort to phone a friend and say “I’ve been thinking of you” or send an email, or write a note, “I haven’t heard of you for so long and wondered about you.”

We even become so accustomed to our own children we forget to tell them that “No matter how much I scold you over little things, I really think you’re wonderful.”  Or to a friend, “Thanks for the many hours I’ve shared with you. Your friendship is precious to me.”

I’m reminded of all this because recently the husband of a friend suddenly died during the day.  But that very morning as he was leaving for work he turned back and said “I think I’ll take time for another cup of coffee,” and they shared a few precious, unexpected moments of quiet.

It was so un-like him, so different from his usual morning rush, that when, in just hours,  an accident took him and he never returned, she cherished these few moments like gold. “In his own way,”  she said, “he told me that morning that even though we’d had rough times, he loved me and our children.”

Now, of course, most of us leave home in the morning and very routinely return that night. But sometimes some of us don’t.  With such awareness we shouldn’t let our gift-giving be only for special occasions or limited to material things. It takes such a little time, and not one cent, to give the more precious ones.

Words of love, friendship and understanding are, after all, the best both to give and to receive. Not as a formal ritual, but naturally, almost casually. So, during every one of the thirty-one days ahead, in word or in deed, tell someone you love them.

It’s in our power to make another person’s day special. Let’s do it and hope this special gift-giving will spur others to do the same. Worth a try.

The Power Of Love And Christmas

Pass it along to the kids . . .

Time folds back upon itself at Christmas and we see ourselves as once we were. My sister Bernice (Mrs. Wayne Ursenbach), is again a four-year old, lying with her head under the Christmas tree with no lights except the magic ones above her. She says ‘it was pure enchantment then and when I’ve tried it again today, it’s still magic’.

One year Santa brought her a coloring book and dozens of colored crayons and she soon became absorbed in creating a multi-colored dog. Brad, then still to become my husband, carefully told her that dogs don’t come in those colors, and Bernice still feels the frustration of that time, because she says she knew dogs weren’t those colors, but was experimenting in trying to do so, and yet didn’t know how to tell Brad. Oh, the frustrations and problems of being a child.

Another memory of my little sister, is when Brad had Santa send her a telegram, and today, a life-time later, and without pausing a moment, she word for word, repeated to me:

“Tonight when you’re asleep, I’ll tell you what I’ll do.
“My sleigh I’ll stop and out I’ll pop.
“And leave some toys for you,” Signed, Santa.

My sister Fern (Mrs. Walter Scott) remembers one Christmas Eve when she and I were washing the dinner dishes, there were suddenly sleigh bells outside, and Fern says she thought it was Santa, and begged Mama to let her go to bed, but Mama insisted we finish our chore first and, what else?

The bells, no doubt were on a neighbor’s horses and Mama knew they were out Bobsleddling, but Fern again thought that Santa had passed by us, and silently worried and fretted until morning when she found that after all Santa, had come back.

Fern also recalled when we used real candles on the tree, and though Dad carefully clipped all the branches from around the candle flame, she was petrified until the flames were put out. Such was Christmas in the long ago..

Another sister, Amber (Mrs. Angus Bodine) remembers when those candles burned low, but leaving the wax still warm, Dad would take the wax and mold small animals from it. Amber remembers playing all day long with the little lambs he made for her.

She also remembers when Santa gave our brother, Spencer Ohlin (later of Richfield, Utah) a whistle and a drum. The house rang with the noise and it was only when Spencer cut a hole in the drum, to find out what made the noise, that any kind of peace once more arrived in the home. And Santa was far wiser in his choice of toys from then on, too. Such is the power of Christmas.

Spencer remembered one Christmas Eve when there was a great knocking at the door and Mama called, “Run to the bedroom and hide. Santa’s at the door.” Well, in a few years he knew it had been Grandpa Ohlin at the door, but he also remembers that was the year Santa brought him an Eskimo Sled which was large enough to be used until he was 15 or 16 years old.

He also recalls worrying how Santa could get down our small chimney . . . how Mama decorated the house with large folding strings of colored paper ropes . . . how we threaded buttered popcorn in long cords, to drape on the tree , , , and like all children of that era, the fascination yet fear of the live, flickering burning candles.

Such are the memories of Christmases that linger on when the children have become mature men and women.

When I was a child, my siblings and I still decorated at least one chair to keep alive Dad’s Swedish tradition and even today, I’ve been known to put a ribbon, bow or such, upon a chair, in silent memory of Dad. God love him.

And there are amusing ones too. Bernice as a child, for some reason loved to claim and play with Mom’s large, long wooden spoon. It was HER spoon and when mom needed it she had to find and wash it well. Well, one Christmas one of us bought Mom a nice big wooden spoon that would be HERS, . . . . and you know w hat happened. Yeah, Bernice claimed the new one and passed the old play yard one on to mom.

Oh, yes, we all experience a time warp at Christmas and no matter when or what kind of holidays they were, to us they were wonderful and are engraved forever on our minds, hearts, Soul, and fresh as if they happened just   yesterday,

Dip into your memory book this year, and some night, perhaps as you all trim the Tree, tell those tales on to your own kids, and they will remember how ‘odd’ your celebrations were. Maybe to them?????   But to you????? Treasures of your youth. Make them happy.

I Stand Where Jane Stood

I stand where Jane, Rachel and Indian women once stood,
The mountains, sky, earth and streams, are the same they saw,
 and did they dream as I dream?  Did they dreams of some  coming woman? A me?

Jane, pioneer woman, eking out a life in a cabin by the stream,
Conceiving, Carrying and Bearing her eighteen children
On this same spot.  Did she dream as I dream?  Of me?

Or was she numbed by the cruel days and nights
Of ‘making do’ with ne’er a moment to stop and just be woman?
Did she dream as I dream? Wonder?  About some future woman?

And that sweet, child-bride Rachel, alone in a family of men.
The mountains, sky, earth and stream the same, but  . . .
Did she dream as I dream? And wonder of someday wives for her sons? 

I see countless Indian women, standing where I now stand,
Seeing the same mountains, sky,  earth and stream, and ask
Did they dream?  Did they dream and wonder?  Of other women?

Now, I stand where other women have stood before me,
Circled by the same mountains, sky, earth and stream,
And I, too, dream and wonder . . . but I dream of them.  Jane, Rachel, Indians.

The eternal mountains, sky, earth and streams are the same, but
I see a highway at my door, golf course, not pasture, Ipod in every hand.
I wonder and dream . . . of the peace and quiet no longer here.

Bewildered, do the mountains, sky, earth and stream ever wonder, too?


Ethel Bradford
March 8, 2015