SO June 13 is on, Big Word of Mouth is once again at The Geelong Club and the theme is counting. Here am I counting on love, counting on the emails we send to convey the love we feel. She’s grown up now, but I’m still counting on her knowing how much she means to me. So here it is – a story I prepared earlier ….

A RELATIONSHIP based on the written word is a far different relationship to one where you see the person.
I have been communicating with one of the troops by email for a number of months now. We’ve always been close.
We’re comfortable with showing our emotional side to each other. She knows I adore her.
My emails to her are full of gossip. I type at breakneck speed and bother not at all with correcting the kinds of errors that occur because my fingers are racing to keep up with my brain.
I press `send’ without checking how it sounds, if the meaning is clear, whether my grammar is good and proper, if I have been repetitive using `really’ or `fantastic’ really fantastically often.
This is all very similar to the conversations that muddle along in the kitchen — if she were here beside me we wouldn’t censor our way of speaking or rehearse things in our minds; we would, just like the emails, belt things out.
But the fundamental difference between our written and our oral conversations is related to love. When I write to her I am passionate in my love of her.
I feel like a Victorian poet as I sign off my emails. It’s not `love Mum’ or `seeya later’, or `miss you’. It’s deep passionate loving sentiments. My arms ache for you, I write. I long to hold you again.
As the time for her to come home gets nearer my arms are aching more and I tell her more. I get more intense in my pronouncements of love the closer she gets to being with me again.
I was talking to someone about this the other day, a young woman whose mother lives a few hours away — in the country, on a farm.
“I know,” she says. “My mother is like that.”
They email each other and her mother tells her love things she would never say to her face-to-face.
The ‘phone isn’t the place for this, either. It’s too immediate, too fast, and too ordinary.
This young woman is grateful for the chance to hear from her mother how special she is to her and how deep and profound her mummy love is.
In our family, we write messages for each other quite often. We scribble in an exercise book that lives on the kitchen table most of the time.
The messages are often things like `Please hang out the washing’; `we need milk if anyone’s going to the shops’; `out walking the dogs’; `won’t be home for tea’, `see you around 9′ — that sort of thing.
But there is an occasional full-on love message in there, too — from me to them. Stuff I wouldn’t get away with saying to them but stuff I want to say anyway.
The travelling troop member is only hours away from returning and my arms are aching for her. I know I’ll cry and I won’t be able to stop holding her hand or stroking her hair and I’ll probably follow her around the house like a toddler until she’ll look at me with exasperation and I’ll force myself to behave.
But I know that my time of writing love letters is over for now until I sneak another little love letter into our message book.

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