When I was five years old, my grandmother had surgery that left her paralyzed on one side and took away her ability to speak. I now know she had Aphasia, which the Mayo Clinic describes as “a condition that robs you of the ability to communicate.” Even with Aphasia, grandma still had a wonderful way of making each grandchild feel deeply loved.
My grandmother never regained her ability to speak and lived the rest of her life in a nursing home. When I think back on visiting days, I remember the anticipation I felt. Even now I can picture her face lighting up with joy when our eyes connected. My parents were there, but I knew the sparkle in her eyes was all for me.
Taking my hand in hers as she looked into my eyes, she tried in vain to talk. Sorrow appeared in her eyes when she realized the words she wanted to say would never be heard. Still, joy replaced her sorrow when she looked back at me. I felt loved beyond measure and the gift of her love never failed, even in the silent space between us.
"To love someone means to see him as God intended him." - Fyodor Dostoevsky
When I was an adult, I talked with my cousins and discovered each of us felt the same way. We were each “the special one.” My grandmother is with God now, but her love lesson lives on in me and my cousins. She taught us that love is more than words. Love is unselfish and unconditional. Her love sowed into the next generation, and now lasts another lifetime.
If you know someone with aphasia, or who is struggling with the effects of a debilitating stroke, check out these resources, and remember that genuine love is something we give away.
Resources for children include Love After a Stroke: a book that was written for families to share with children.