I remember when I was in my mid twenties and my dad asked me if I knew where he got his little saying "I never heard of such a thing!" I was surprised to find out it was in fact from me, from way back when I was about three years old -- he'd been saying it for so many years I just thought he really liked saying it.
Got me thinking about something I've been saying for years that I got from my brother Michael's daughter Johanna. She said it years ago during the time when I stayed with Michael a few days to help him out after he had cut off part of a finger with his lawn mower. On one of those days, Michael was dropping something off at school, Johanna and I were in the car waiting and had this exchange:
"I love you, Uncle Blaine."
"I love you too, Johanna."
"No, I love you," she answers.
"I know . . . I love you too."
"No, I love YOU," she repeats.
"Yes, and I love you," I repeat, getting a bit confused at what is happening.
"NO! I love YOU!" she insists.
Then a light bulb goes off in my mind. I remember how kids at that age are naturally egocentric, which causes them to have trouble seeing beyond their own point of view. I think about what I might say to get her to see things my way as well. "Johanna loves Uncle Blaine, AND Uncle Blaine loves Johanna," is what I come up with.
For the first time, Johanna says nothing. I wonder if I got through to her. I start to open my mouth to try again.
Suddenly her little voice squeaks, "TWO loves!"
PHOTO OF JOHANNA FROM AROUND THAT TIME
Oh, man! She got it! Oh, how she got it! And in her wonderful little way with words I could never have imagined with my grown up mind.
I've always remembered that sweet conversation with my dear niece. Sammy and I play this little game where we repeat the conversation, sometimes with him in Johanna's role, sometimes with me in it (sometimes Aaron, too). Sammy and I did this once again the other night, and I asked myself whether I'd ever shared that with Johanna. So here I am making sure:
Johanna, though many miles may lie between us, I thought that you should know that you are in my heart, and that the stamp of love you left on me endures in me and now in Elisa and your cousins.
After emailing this to Johanna through her mother Angela, I got the following reply:
Johanna says, "Aww, I remember that! :-) I could hear the conversation in my head as I read, the whole scene coming back to me. I could hear your voice and my own so clearly, I was so hyper then :-P I miss you too <3 "
Mom says, "Thanks for that. Johanna is in such a good mood now. That really lifted her day. She is back doing Biology now. Hope all is well with you. I will look for a photo of you and Johanna.
JOHANNA AND I FROM AROUND 1999