…And the greatest of these is Love

When I was about 8 years old I attended a baby shower with my mom. As the gifts were opened, all the women oohed and aahed over the tiny baby boy clothes that were coming out of each of bag and box, and making comments about baby things I had never seen before, “oh that product saved my life! You’ll always use it.” One particular gift never left my mind. It was an illustrated childrens book, that seemed to be geared more towards moms. Each mom would read through the few pages, wipe a few tears from her eyes, say how sweet and sad the book was, then pass the book to the next mom.
When the book came to me, Love You Forever, written by Robert Munsch, I studied the cover; a brown haired, brown eyed chubby cheek boy, about 2 years old, is sitting on the floor of a bathroom, with the toilet paper unraveled all around, a tube of toothpaste emptied out, and all his mothers costmetics on the floor.
I read the book from cover to cover. The book started out with this:
A mother held her new baby and very slowly rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And while she held him, she sang:
I’ll love you forever,I’ll like you for always,As long as I’m livingmy baby you’ll be.
This continued on, even as the baby boy became a rowdy teenager, the mother would sneak into his room and rock him each night, and sing to him her same song.
Then the boy gets older, becomes a man, and has a home of his own:
Well, that mother, she got older. She got older and older and older. One day she called up her son and said, “You’d better come see me because I’m very old and sick.” So her son came to see her. When he came in the door she tried to sing the song.
She sang:
I’ll love you forever,I’ll like you for always…
But she couldn’t finish because she was too old and sick. The son went to his mother. He picked her up and rocked her back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And he sang this song:
I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, As long as I’m living my Mommy you’ll be.
When the son came home that night, he stood for a long time at the top of the stairs. Then he went into the room where his very new baby daughter was sleeping. He picked her up in his arms and very slowly rocked her back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And while he rocked her he sang:
I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.
After reading through this book, at eight years of age, I didn’t understand the reaction all the other women were having towards it. I stared blankly at Cindy, the host of the baby shower, who told me “It’s just a really sweet book.” I didn’t get it, and in fact, I felt down right stupid. (Even at a young age I was determined to come across as intelligent to everyone I encountered).
A few years later I saw the book in a book store, picked it up, and read through it. I studied the illustrations. I still didn’t get it. What am I missing? Even more years later I again read the book, trying to find the missing link, hoping that I would finally understand it, could put this all behind me, and resolve that I am not an idiot, and I do in fact understand this simple book titled Love you Forever. But no, I didn’t understand.
I now have my own brown haired, chubby cheek, blue eyed 13 month old son, Daniel. My bathroom often looks just like the one illustrated on the cover of Love you Forever. My son is always “re-organizing” my cosmetics and toiletries (because really, the toothpaste is better off kept in the shower, and my concealer should go in the trash). If I leave a bathroom door open for more than 2 seconds, Daniel will see it, and he will immediately enter the bathroom and unravel the toilet paper sheet by sheet. (My bathroom is in this very state right now; in case you don’t believe me, photos will be following!)
I’ve now read that book again (and again, and again). And each time, I’ve wiped a few tears from my eyes, and put the book down with a smile. Now, I finally understand.
If you can handle a few tears right now, please visit http://robertmunsch.com/books.cfm?bookid=40 to find out how this book came about.
You can purchase Love you Forever from www.amazon.com
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