I am not a particularly sentimental person. I don't cry at movies with the notable exception of "Hachi: A Dog's Tale." (I'm not made of stone!) I don't oooh and aaah over baby / wedding / graduation photos; they're your kids, not mine. I don't have a box of treasured cards and letters from old lovers. I don't keep grandma's tablecloth just because it was hers; I keep things that I like for their own sake. I've only ever cried at two funerals and that was because the person delivering the eulogy was particularly adept at eliciting that response with his story-telling skills.
Actually, most of my family isn't too sentimental, at least the immediate family. There are moments, of course. And the larger family has some individuals who are down right cry babies. But, for the most part, we are not an overly demonstrative lot. We hug rather than shaking hands. But, verbally, we're reticent.
Having said that, I can remember the exact moment, if not the actual calendar date, of the first time in my adult life that my mother told me she loved me. I was 45 years old.
In some ways, I am the prodigal child. I left when I was 17 to go to college. I returned briefly when I dropped out of school. Left again when I was 20 and never looked back. Over a period of years, I gradually reduced the amount of time I spent with my family. I worked all day, worked out after work, went to school all night, slept little and stayed busy. My excuse for not being able to visit -- gotta study. I was independent and intended to stay that way. The last thing I wanted was to have my family in my business.
Then, I took a series of jobs out of town. Later, a series of jobs out of state. Oddly, whereas working out of town seemed to have put distance between us, working out of state brought on my parents' first ever visit to my home.
Oh, yeah. I have to mention. This was also the time frame in which I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and Bipolar Disorder. (2002)
That first visit, Mom and Dad drove from Texas to Nevada to help me with some things. The day they left, Mom gave me a big hug, started to cry, then said, "I love you so much."
There's a part of me that reads this and says, "Waaaa. So your Mom never told you she loved you. Did you tell her you loved her?"
Yes, that day I did. And we've exchanged hug-I-love-you maybe half a dozen times since.
But here's the funny thing. Sometime when I wasn't looking -- and let's face it, I wasn't looking for a long time -- Mom started ending phone conversations with, "I love you."
And here's the even funnier thing, she does NOT do this when she talks to me on the phone.