Over My Shoulder: “Let Me Count the Ways…”

by Ann Robson

This is the month of hearts and flowers, of lace and perfume, of cards and chocolate.  And maybe some real love.

How do we define love?  Perhaps Elizabeth Barret Browning came closest with her “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”  We no longer live in Browning’s time.

Love is a very personal emotion and no two of us will love alike.  Two of us may love each other but it will still be in two different ways.  For those who enjoy a long, enduring relationship there have been ups and downs, yin and yang, tears and giggles, heartache and joy, all shared with love at the core.

As we have done with many things, we have taken a perfectly wonderful word and changed its meaning a hundred times over. My beloved Oxford English dictionary gives seven full meanings for the word ‘love’ and 12 more related to love. My equally favored Roget’s Thesaurus provides more than 20 ways to use the word ‘love’ without actually saying it.

Apparently it depends on the person saying it, the person hearing it, the time of day, the phases of the moon and tides, and whatever else may be going on at the moment one utters ‘love’ as to what it really means.

I have devised my own love-like-adore list. There is no particular order to these objects of my affection but collectively they bring much joy into my life.

  • My husband of 58 years. Although some days more and others less. That’s how we got to 58, more or less.
  • My daughter who’s creeping up on 50 in another year. There were days when I wondered whether either of us would survive…look at us now! 
  • My  cat, Sugar. On any given day she’s at the top of my list. On others she’s below bottom.
  • Sunsets behind the pines, over water, reflecting on a glass building, coloring the snowy mountains, shifting with the dust in the Grand Canyon, making rainbows at Niagara Falls. I’d probably love sunrises but we non-morning people often miss that part of the day.
  • A good laugh. Or even a slightly naughty one.
  • Diet Coke.
  • My own space.
  • Good music – preferably something where I can understand the words.  Different notes for different parts of my day.
  • Alexa. I’m not a huge fan of all she can do, but I do enjoy what I ask her to do.
  • A good book with a comfy chair and the time to absorb the written word.
  • Spending time with a longtime friend, doing nothing or talking a mile-a-minute.  
  • Knowing she’s just a call away.
  • Spending time with good friends from all walks of life, just chillin’ or gossiping or partying or planning to party or playing cards or whatever one of us suggests.
  • Trivial Pursuit.  I have an ongoing game of 40 years with my brother which I say is “about even.”  I also have games with the next generation and I’m starting to slip with them, but hanging close.

I’m sure my list is quite incomplete.  It is not meant to be in any order – one day I may prefer Trivial Pursuit over a gorgeous sunset and change things around the next day.

I’d like February’s message to be about ‘love’ for all who need it in a place that makes them happy with those whom they love and who love them back.

Ann Robson is the author of “Over My Shoulder: Tales of Life and Death and Everything In Between.” She may be reached at overmyshoulder@charter.net .