There is nothing a child wants any more in this world than to know they are loved. Not loved because they are cute or because they made a goal the first time they played soccer. Not loved because they get the lead role in the school play or because they memorized the most Bible verses in Sunday School. Not loved because they are going to carry on the family business or because they graduated with honors. Every child longs...needs...deserves to be loved just because.
Most people will call this 'unconditional love'. I call it 'Granny love'. I call it Granny love because it's the kind of love I grew up with-the kind Granny loved me with from the day I was born until the day she died last October.
When people would comment about the obvious closeness of our relationship I would often laugh and say, "She couldn't or wouldn't love me any less if I was a serial killer." I'd say it laughingly, but I can't even begin to explain how good it felt...how comforting it was to know that was there.
The last several years of Granny's life left her unable to remember almost everything-everything but who I was and how much we loved one another. It made me sad to deal with the disappearance of her memory and simple life-skills, but it was always a blessing and an honor to do so. It made me sad to see the frustration and fear in her eyes; knowing she should remember something...but didn't. But it was easy for me to fill in the gaps and keep going. It was easy because it was all done with and because of love.
What hasn't been easy is going on without the Granny love I'd had for so long; fifty-two years, to be exact. I was laying on the bed beside Granny when she took her last breath on my fifty-second birthday last October. I know in my head and in my heart that she is free from all she'd endured over the last several years. I know in my head and heart that I will see her again in Heaven. But I also know that no matter how old you are, you never really quit being a child when it comes to needing and desiring 'just because' kind of love-Granny love.
Knowing that Granny love is gone has left a hole in my heart that no one-not even my husband, kids or grandkids can fill. That space was there only for her and I.
While I certainly don't claim to be the perfect mom, my four children will tell you that if they know nothing else at the end of the day they know one thing...that Mom loves them 'Granny style'. They know there is a place in their hearts and mine that is only for me and them. It's a place that will never shrink or go away.
As a parent, you owe it to your children to carve out that Granny love space in their hearts. You owe it to them to give them the peace and comfort of knowing that even if they were a serial killer you would love them to the moon and back.