Love Matters for a Healthy Heart

written by JO BRADLEY

As February rolls around our thoughts naturally turn toward matters of the heart, and love. The funny thing about love is the more you give it away, the more it comes back to you. My favorite definition of love is an act of kindness and giving.

An old country family doctor once told a story about how he helped a widow pull out of an unhealthy attitude. Her children lived out of town, and with her husband gone, she was lonely and feeling a little sorry for herself. She didn't get out of the house, although she could drive and was physically able. She talked about having nothing to look forward to and no one who showed interest in her.

The prescription he gave her was not medicine. She was to plant seeds of her favorite flower in several containers and tend them faithfully. She was to come back as soon as the seeds started to sprout. Although she was rather irritated with the doctor, she agreed.

When she came back to the doctor's office, her next prescription was to make a list of people she knew who had more trouble than she did. She was surprised that she was able to find many people in need right in her small community. There was a man who had lost a leg, a child with an alcoholic parent, a woman whose husband did not love her, another widow who had no family to check on her, and a young stay-at-home mom with three small children who was overwhelmed with her responsibilities.

When the widow brought the list to the doctor the following week, he gave her another assignment. As the plants began to bloom, she was to take one and give it to somebody on the list. She was to return to the doctor's office in a month.

She did not come back until six months later when she got a large splinter in her hand she could not remove. The old doctor asked her why she had not kept her previous appointment. Her chuckling reply was, "Oh my, I got so busy I just forgot about it." As she visited folks at home with her gifts of flowers, she also brought her consideration for them. This care and concern was returned to her and she gained many friends. Going to the doctor was no longer a weekly affair.

This widow visited many people and she soon became known as "The Flower Lady." She started a tradition in that community. The flower was a small, inexpensive gift - it was the love that came with it that was so valuable. As she showed care for other people, they began to care about her. She now had people who were interested in her and she no longer had time to be lonely.

This month, when we focus on the heart, take the opportunity to create a healthy heart attitude. Open your heart to giving and perform an act of kindness for others. Maybe you, too, can start a tradition.