Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

Decoding the Love: “Cynthia knows her weeds.”

For those of The Old School--such as my father--praise and expressions of love aren't given casually or lavishly. I can count on one hand the times my father has said in words that he loves me. He shows his love through actions.

When praise comes, prick up your ears. It might come in ways you'd never hear if you didn't know how to recognize and decode the love. Here's one of those stories.

My cousin Cynthia came out to help my father weed. Our gardens had gone wild. Cynthia worked hard enough and long enough to work up a sweat and get mud on her hands and knees. She and my father came in for a break and a glass of water.

My father said, "Cynthia really knows her weeds." Meaning that she knew a weed from a flower or other plants. And that she knew the names of the weeds. She'd learned from her mother, my Aunt Grace. My father's five simple words said volumes. He respects hard work. He respects people who know how to do things and do them without fuss.

This is what old-fashioned Midwestern love and praise sound like. In California where I used to live the praise would be heaped on lavishly, perhaps to the gushing point, and lasted for at least the length of a double-spaced typed page. But, my father's terse praise was none the less for it.

My cousin Cynthia and I knew this. We knew how to decode the love. This short sentence has become one of those shorthands between friends. We say it to one another and the giggle our heads off.

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2 Responses »

  1. I'll never forget, at my Senior BFA exhibit when your father, my grandfather, told me I had, "good welds". It was the highest praise I received that day. One of the Big Days in my life up there with baptism, graduations, wedding and the birth of my children. I still glow with pride from within at the memory of those words from him on a long ago day in spring.

  2. Janean,

    I feel chills as I read your comment. Clearly, you knew how to decode the love. His comment about your "good welds" is even more significant because you used artistic license to give more texture to your sculptures...in favor of a neat functional weld. It shows his flexibility and ability to see and appreciate what your goal was. That's big.

    It was wonderful, too, that you used his scraps around the barn to give them new life in your art.

    Aunt Janet

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