by Jude Southerland Kessler

Author, The John Lennon Series … The Only Historical Narrative On the Life of John Lennon

“You and I have memories, longer than the road that stretches out ahead … ” For a great majority of us, this quote from Paul McCartney is oh-so-true. The golden thread of memories we share with loved ones is, in many cases, longer than the days that unspool before us. We’ve been blessed with a joyful past – rich and full. But there’s a flip side to that bounty of yesterdays: we are beginning to say our goodbyes.

In the last nine months, under the scourge of Covid-19 and life’s stresses and disasters, we’ve lost so many wonderful people quite suddenly … people we admired, enjoyed, and respected such as: that smooth-as-silk actor who made 007 come to life, Sean Connery; the warm and welcoming game show host, Alex Trebek; the gregarious host who started “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?”, Regis Philbin; 70s singing sensation (“I Can See Clearly Now”), Johnny Nash; “I Am Woman,” Helen Reddy; the beloved Chicago Bears football star immortalized in “Brian’s Song,” Gayle Sayers; country music greats, Mac Davis and Charlie Daniels; brilliant Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Cardinals Hall of  Famer, Lou Brock and former Yankees pitcher, Whitey Ford; actor, director, and creator of “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” Carl Reiner; noted writer, activist, and former Presidential hopeful, Herman Cain, and German photographer, Astrid Kirchherr, who influenced The Beatles to adopt “The Beatle haircut” and their pocketless, tightly-tailored suits. For many of us, however, the far greater loss in 2020 was the goodbye we said to close friends and family members who passed during this dark time. It has been a year of serious circumstances and profound reflection.

And that’s just what I was doing (reflecting) last week when I realized that, in many cases, we only express how much people mean to us when we’ve lost them. Only then do we scramble to write eulogies and memoires. Only then do we publish favorite photos on Facebook and place stuffed animals beside lighted candles. Then, we pause to pay homage. Then, we say the word. But sadly, these tender tributes never reach the ears of the departed.

We offer too little, too late.

In 1965, John Lennon gave us this sage advice. It was good then. It’s great now. Listen:

Everywhere I go I hear it said
In the good and the bad books that I have read:
Say the word, and you’ll be free!
Say the word and be like me…
Say the word I’m thinking of
Have you heard the word is “love”?It’s so fine…it’s sunshine!
It’s the word: LOVE!

So, for the next six weeks — as we approach Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa — I’m encouraging you to “Say the Word … Love!” Say it to someone you cherish. Say it to someone who matters. Say it to someone you need to tell. That someone could be:

1) A teacher or mentor who once stirred you or challenged you to become your best, who molded you (intentionally or unintentionally by a quote, deed, or direction) into the person you are today
2) A faithful friend who was (and is) always there for you … the person who’s your “thick and thin,” “friend in deed” kind of soul mate
3) A spouse, child, parent, grandparent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or cousin … some family member who (expecting nothing in return) has blessed you with unconditional love
4) An inspirer: a favorite performer, writer (for me, it was Maeve Binchy … why didn’t I tell her???), artist, dancer, musician, achiever, or public figure has who called you to raise the bar
5) A faith guide who has lifted you to a higher plane
6) Or a … well, you get the picture!

There is someone out there who deserves your thanks, someone to whom the words have never been said. Say them. E-mail, text, scribble by hand, telephone, Instagram, or “say the word,” face-to-face! If you’re creative, you could sing it (as The Beatles are doing in our illustration). You could put it into verse.

No matter what you do … just say it! Don’t wait until it’s too late to speak the emotion waiting in your grateful heart.

LOVE: you have four weeks to express it. Don’t delay!

Ready? Steady? Say, say, say!

For a bit of inspiration, listen to The Beatles singing “The Word” here:


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