As a child, I said these words to my dad on a regular basis. Sometime around adolescence, I stopped saying them. It wasn’t because I stopped loving my father. I guess it was just that adolescent male transition. Somewhere, I don’t know when, the adolescent me discovered that it just wasn’t “manly” enough.
Flash forward to today. I’m the dad now. My young son tells me that he loves me all the time. I cannot express how much it thrills me to hear those words. At some point, I realized that I wasn’t saying them to my dad.
I’ve heard the songs like “Everything I Own” by Bread, written by lead singer David Gates as a tribute to his late father. The lyrics contain a very potent reminder that you need to tell those you love of that fact. I’ve also heard the stories that read like letters to Dear Abby about people who found themselves in that situation. In addition, I know people who experienced that heartache. Stories like that move your heart. These things led me to start hugging my dad more when we were visiting my parents, but still saying the words was hard. Years of not saying them had made it difficult. As I said before, I have always loved my father – I just stopped saying it directly. Even though I stopped saying the words, I found other ways to express my love for my father. However, I now realize that is not enough. Every time I hear my son say: “I love you, Dad,” my heart soars with rapture that cannot be expressed.
I no longer care about society or culture’s ideas or my perception of them. I cannot and will not refuse to say those words anymore. It’s not easy – years of habit cannot be erased easily. I don’t know if that awkwardness exists for every man, or just for me. It doesn’t matter. I love my dad and I will tell him.
“I love you, Dad!”
Is there someone you know,
You’re loving them so,
But taking them all for granted.
You may lose them one day,
Someone takes them away,
And they don’t hear the words you long to say
from “Everything I Own” by David Gates