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Say It
by Kevin Eikenberry
Aunt Verna was more like a grandmother than a great-aunt to me. You see, Mom's Mom, my grandmother, died when I was still a baby. Aunt Verna became, as Mom's says, "the closest thing to a Mother I had after Mom died." I have many memories of my aunt Verna and her late husband Wilbur. I remember going to their home eating well, enjoying fellowship, and feeling love there. There has never been a doubt in my mind that my Aunt Verna loved me.

Several weeks ago, as I stood over my great-aunt's bed seeing her alive for what would be the final time, the last thing she said to me was "I love you". I can't honestly say if she ever told me before or not, but I can tell you these words will be my most powerful and lasting memory of her.

I was sitting in a restaurant speaking with an old friend about our families and life and raising our children. Doug has one son who lives very close to him and another, younger son, who lives a plane flight away. I asked how his relationship with John was going and he said very well. He said even when there are rough spots in the relationship, John knows when they see each other the first thing that his Dad will do is hug him and tell him he loves him. He went on to say that the same routine plays out when they say goodbye, and on the phone, minus the hug. Then Doug made the statement that gave me goose bumps, as it so beautifully describes one of my life beliefs. He said, "You see Kevin, it may go without saying, but it shouldn't go unsaid."

Other Experiences

Many years ago I had the opportunity to first take, and then assist with the Dale Carnegie course. Part of the program is that every week of the fourteen-week program, each participant gives a short "speech". Those speeches become more honest, more personal and more emotional as the weeks pass. Both in the group I participated in, and in the groups I assisted with, this lesson came through loud and clear. People spoke of others in their lives they never told they loved or never heard those words from. Some of those speakers spoke of those who had already passed away. Other spoke of people still alive. The regret from each was real. Some still had time to make amends.

Away From Home

The examples I have shared are all about close friend or family relationships. While the application of this truth may have the most meaning in those areas of your life, applying the lesson to your closest personal relationships may not be your challenge. Your challenge may be at work. You may work with people who you trust implicitly, believe in totally, and value greatly. Maybe you assume they know how you feel. Perhaps they do and perhaps they don't. Either way, the message of this essay is clear. "It may go without saying, but it shouldn't go unsaid". Think about how the message applies for you - with family, friends, peers, employees, and everyone in your life.


Your message may be "I love you." It may be "I trust you." It may be "I honor your commitment." It may be nearly any authentic, affirming statement that you assume the other person knows. Sometimes they do understand. Even when we do understand we still need to hear things said. In other cases however, the people we assume know, do not. The need to speak the unspoken to them is even more imperative.

You may say, "I tell those close to me that I love them all the time." Tell them once more. We've all heard stories of those who didn't get the chance to tell people one last time. Tell the people you love that you love them every time you see them. Make your kids almost tired of hearing you say the words.

If this essay has spoken to you, don't delay. The time to speak those unspoken words is now. Pick up the phone. Get up from your desk. Walk down the hall or to the other room. Tell them let them know how you feel. It may go without saying, but please don't let it go unsaid.

� Kevin Eikenberry
Kevin is a speaker, trainer, author, and President of the Discian Group. You can reach Kevin at kevin@discian.com.


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