Rosie just got back from school when her grandfather greeted her as she came into the house. He was visiting his daughter.
She dropped her school books on the table and asked;
“Papa, how many kinds of love are there?”
Gerry looked at his granddaughter with a loving gleam in his eye and a smile so warm.
“How many kinds of love are there? Geeze, kid, how many people can you love?”
Rosie sat at the kitchen table pondering the question.
“Okay, little bit, I have to ask you this; Do you love your Mommie?”
“Of course, Papa. Who couldn’t love Mommie?”
“Okay, that’s one kind of love. Do you love your sissie?”
“Well, duh, Papa. She is my little sister. How could I not love my sissie?”
“Then comparing the two, wouldn’t you say that is another kind of love?”
Rosie stared at her grandfather searching for an answer as though it would sprout out of his forehead. She fidgeted with her books. Her face twisted.
“Rosie? Wouldn’t you say that the way you feel about your mother and the way you feel about your sister are different?”
“How do you mean, Papa?”
Gerry thought, looking for an example. “When you hug Mommie, is it the same as when you hug Maria?”
“I guess.” Gerry could still hear the confusion in her voice.
“When you hug Mommie, what do you expect her to do?”
“She hugs me back.”
“Good! Then what happens?”
“I dunno. We talk or I help with whatever she is doing.”
“How do you feel about that when you help or talk to her?”
Rosie’s face glowed a bit. “I feel grown up. I feel big, like Mom.”
“And when you hug Maria, what do you do then?”
“It depends, but I usually wind up taking care of her for a while. And honestly, Papa, that feels like a bother sometimes.”
“You don’t feel grown up?”
“Yeah, but in a different way. Not in a good way like I do with Mom.”
“But you love Maria, right?”
“There you have it. We just figured out two kinds of love. And that is just the beginning. Love is nothing more than a strong feeling of appreciation and tenderness towards someone. Then you devote a good portion of your life to that person.”
“All our life is devoted, Papa?”
Gerry giggled. “No, no. Not your whole life. God knows, we need a break once in a while. We do need to get away once in a while. But through the good times and the bad, we are still dedicated to that person. And it takes a long time to figure that out. Discovering you love someone takes time. And then a commitment to make it last.”
Gerry looked at his ‘little bit’ thoughtfully. “Why did you ask me that question, Rosie?”
Her cheeks blushed. Gerry looked closer and noticed something.
“Is there a boy in your class that you feel…?”
“Papa, that’s silly. I’m only twelve.”
He smiled broadly. “Is that shadow I see in your eyes?”
“It’s raining outside. There can’t be any shadow anywhere.”
“You do realize that liking a boy is okay, right?”
“I don’t like any boys,” she insisted.
“Well, I just want you to know that being attracted to other people is in our genes. We are built that way.”
“Papa, I’m wearing a dress. I’m not in jeans.”
“Okay. Time to talk to your mom. She knows how to explain these things.”