“Falling in and out of Love,” Nov. 28, 2017

I don’t know how it started. I was busy in the kitchen when the fight broke out. It wasn’t a real fight, just a disagreement. One minute, they were fine, happy and laughing.

Then somehow, feelings got hurt. Tempers flared. And one of them went storming out to the patio to sit alone, looking sad.

One of the great joys of my life is getting to see how much my grandchildren love each other. The cousins don’t get to spend a lot of time together. But they seem to know somehow that they are special to each other; that they are more than just friends; that they are “family.”

They have a nana who adores them, a Papa Mark who’s like one of them, and aunts and uncles who dote on them. They say hello with hugs and goodbye with “I love you’s.” And when a family gathering puts us all under one roof? They have a rip-roaring, wing-ding good time together. Usually.

It’s natural for children to have what my grandmother called “falling outs.” I grew up with more cousins than I could count. I loved them all, some more than others. We had “falling outs” left and right. If we complained to an adult, we were told to “Work it out.” So we did. Usually.

Actually, my cousins and I were better at “working out” differences than some of our elders were. My mother and her eight sisters were as close as could be, for nine women who grew up sharing an outhouse. But their “falling outs” were apocalyptic.

In their 60s, my mother and her sister Hazel phoned each other every day. Once, when Aunt Hazel called, Mama said, “Call me later, Hazel, I’m eatin’ a Popsicle.” Then she hung up. Aunt Hazel was livid. She couldn’t believe her sister hung up on her for something as piddly as a Popsicle.

Hours later, when Mama called, Aunt Hazel promptly hung up. This went on for months. They took turns. One would call, the other would hang up, and they’d both get mad all over again.

I am glad to tell you they got over it before they died. I don’t know how. I doubt there was any apology. I suspect they just grew weary of being distant and went back to being sisters.

Isn’t that how families often “work it out?” We grow weary of being distant. We let go of the thing that caused it. And we go back to being a family.

When I looked out and saw Henry sitting alone on the patio, I went out to check on him. But then, a lovely thing happened.

Randy, who is 7, came running out of Henry’s room, where they had been playing earlier, and sat down on the patio beside Henry. I stopped at the door to watch.

For a minute, they just sat without speaking. Randy kept glancing at Henry. Finally he reached out and offered Henry something he held in his hand. Not an olive branch. A Lego.

Henry took it. Randy said something I didn’t hear, and Henry nodded. Then they laughed and hugged like long lost bears, and ran off to play.

I wish you could’ve seen them.

I still don’t know how it started, but I will never forget how it beautifully it ended: One child held out a handful of love. And the other child accepted it. And just like that, in the twinkling of an eye, love bridged the distance between them.

I often hear from readers who’ve had a “falling out” that ripped their family apart. Some are at peace with being distant. Others pray for a bridge.

When we feel hurt, it’s not easy to offer love, or to accept it. But before giving up, we might want to ask: Are our differences worth fighting over? Or is family worth fighting for?

“Falling outs” come in different sizes. Some are too painful to bridge.

But life is short and family is too precious to allow something as little as a Lego or as piddly as a Popsicle to stand in the way of love.


  1. Wao !! It is so precious column. I missed it and it is next Monday when I would read next column. Like I get double doze of inspiration to adore our extended family!! I could feel you had great thanks giving. Do not remember I wished you or forgot like I skipped this post.
    How can I do that? I do not remember I could read any post with such devotion as I read your column. Thank you so much Sharon . Love you so very much. You have great festival season!!
    Please mention where are you doing any public appearance? May be I can see you personally.

  2. Sharon Starns says

    I’m living with one of those “fallings out”; I’ve offered a hand a couple of times and drawn it back with teeth marks in it. I’d dearly love to find a bridge, but have accepted distance. What other choice do I have? Sigh. This time of year makes me melancholy, I guess.

  3. Debbie Ivey says

    This is our story. I am the oldest sister with three siblings. Never mind how old we all are. It took the,death of both of our parents last year, 19 days apart, for us to stop being mad over our differences and celebrate them instead. As one brother stated, “Our parents, in death, succeeded in doing what they could not accomplish in life…..reuniting us.”

    We miss our parents every day, and the holidays are a challenge. But we thank them for the gift of forgiveness and reconciliation.

  4. Kate Sciacca says

    Actually, I did see it. Except their names are Jak and Vinny. And I don’t know what happened (too many little people running around) – but by the end of the night – after Papa John had passed out from his carb and turkey overload – Jak and Vinny were chatting away like two little old men. Maybe it was over that Bumgarner shirt Jak was wearing… Vinny is currently sporting his prized Kershaw hair…

  5. Jo Anne Sapp says

    Enjoy your columns so much. You are a very gifted writer.

  6. Larry Boisclaire says

    hi Sharon….the last time I wrote was about a pair of quail out our back patio…..themale stood by his stunned mate for hours.
    I’ve been reading some books by Eugenia Price. Her writing reminds me of yours. Full of goodness and kindness and able to get past the trials and hurts of life without having them leave an ugly scar on you. If you haven’t read her boook, I think you would enjoy them

  7. Pamela Dailey says

    I love your stories. I look forward to reading your article each week.

  8. Betty Bewley says


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