The song was covered by Alma Cogan: Dana: Cilla Black: Patty Duke: Cliffe Richard: and many others, but none got anywhere close in ranking to that of Number 1 by Kitty Kallen in 1954.
I remember first hearing this song on the radio after I’d been discharged from a nine-month stay as a patient in the old Batley Hospital, following a serious traffic accident I incurred that left me unable to walk for the following three years.
Of all song content, none can be truer than the words in this song. Of all the things in life that can make a person feel happy, wanted, purposeful and content; and where no material cost is incurred and requires only the smallest amount of effort, it is those ‘little things’ that matter most.
A gentle smile, a charitable thought, a softly spoken word, a look of understanding, any kind act or supportive gesture; each and all of those ‘little things mean a lot’. Just as my dear old mum used to tell me,” Billy, watch your pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves”, if we never forget the smallest of things in our dealings with others, so will we humans increase from childhood into adulthood in wisdom and all-round goodness as our morals are moulded, our lifestyles shaped and our characters are indelibly formed.
When we do all those crucial ‘little things’ mentioned above, we are in the process of being much more than ourselves in any situation we find ourselves in. We now constitute a greater whole of human goodness and add up to much more than the total of our own parts.
Anyone who has ever felt lonely, fearful, sad, hurt, emotionally unsettled, misunderstood, mentally confused, unwanted or unneeded, put down, humiliated or outcast; all can benefit enormously simply by your presence and the smallest yet most important of actions from you. We can, through our words and actions, prevent the lonely from feeling desolate, stop the sad from feeling depressed and woeful, stop those who feel to have lost their way from feeling isolated, help the fearful from growing terrified, console those who have been hurt from feeling more wounded. A few simple things are all it takes to stop a person from feeling unwanted, unneeded and unloved. Sometimes, one’s silent presence alone is sufficient and is all that’s needed to show the other person they are not alone.
And from all thoughts, words or deeds at our disposal to employ, none can ever be more powerful or uplifting than telling or showing a person ‘they are loved’. I have witnessed too many occasions during my working career when dealing with the problem situations within family and couple relationships, when I have heard a parent or partner say, “He/she knows I love them without me needing to say it.” The simple answer is ‘No they don’t!” And were one to even to suppose that they may suspect you love them, ‘THEY STILL NEED TO PHYSICALLY HEAR THE WORDS SPOKEN FROM TIME TO TIME’.
Anyone who ever felt loved is a person who was frequently told ‘I love you’ by significant others. I never experienced one day in my whole life before my mother died when she failed to tell me and all her children that she loved them. Never one morning before leaving the house or one night before going to bed, did she fail to say, ‘I love you, Billy Forde’. Note how her adding of my name to the sentiment personalised it and made it more meaningful for me.
So many times when counselling a married couple who had stopped talking to each other, it was essential to get the two of them back to being able to re-engage in gentle touch, softer look and more positive speech in our work sessions, but it was crucially important that if they wanted their words to be heard with more receptive ears, it was advisable that they prefixed them by starting with the other person’s name. Thus, telling their marriage partner, ‘ Sheila/Bill, if only you did this or that it would be so much easier to understand‘ WILL ALWAYS SOUND MORE SINCERE AND PROVE FAR MORE EFFECTIVE than saying, ‘If only you did this or that……………to understand’ (without any name prefix).
Between 1989 and 2005 I held two thousand special assemblies in Yorkshire schools (Mostly primary schools of which over 100 schools had annual visits). Never once in these special storytelling assemblies did I finish the assembly without asking the children, “If you could give your mum and dad the best present in the world today, would you?” After the assembly of young children had yelled out ‘Yes’ I would tell them, “Tonight when you go to bed, look into your mother or father’s eyes, smile and say, ‘I love you’. If you do this, you will see a sight of happiness on their face that you will never forget”.
Around 2007, I had occasion to meet and speak with the Barnsley mother of a young boy who had attended one of my storytelling assemblies in 1992 when he was aged 7 years. The woman thanked me profusely and said that she will never forget that very first night when her 7-year-old boy cuddled her and told her he loved her before going to bed. She told me that she cried with happiness, but can also remember replying, ‘And I love you too, …’
It was only at that precise moment when the boy’s mother realised that it had been several years since she had told her son she loved him at bedtime and that he had probably taken the lead from her of no longer speaking words of love to her at the end of the day when he went to bed. She had told him infrequently at other times, but never at bedtime. Her son was reportedly an overactive boy who would become aggressive and shout when told by his mother daily that it was bedtime.
Her husband had left her and his son when the boy was 2 years old, and the boy’s behaviour had gradually worsened through the absence of an adult male in his life ever since. Getting him to bed had created too many unpleasant scenes that often the boy’s mother would relent for the sake of peace and quiet and allow her son to watch the television longer than was advisable.
I was pleased (no, proud) to learn that school assembly fifteen years earlier in the young boy’s life had left an indelible impression on him. Not only did his mother’s face light up when he told her, ‘I love you, Mum’ on that first night following the assembly that morning, but so did his face when his mother replied in identical sentiment. The Barnsley woman told me with maternal pride that never once since that morning assembly has either left the house without a cuddle or saying, ‘love you!’ (her precise words were the informal-sounding ‘Love you’ of a Barnsley born and bred woman and not ‘I love you’).
So please remember that ‘little things do mean a lot’ and saying, ‘I love you’ means more than anything else in the world. Every time these three words are sincerely spoken, God smiles down on the orator and brightens up His rainbow of hope and human aspiration.
Love and peace. Bill xxx