Today as I drank my morning coffee, I was reminded that it is Fathers Day. The tears came suddenly as sweet memories of my dad flooded my soul. I decided to re-post a blog I did six months ago. I would be very honored if you would read it. Then, if your dad is still living, say the words, “I love you.” If he is nearby, hug him. If he doesn’t like to be hugged, do it anyway. Someday you will long to do so. And if you are a Dad, say the words a hundred times to family and friends today, magical words, words we were created to hear. I love you! I love you! I love you!
This one is for you Dad! Can’t wait to see you again.
As we pulled into the driveway to visit my parents I was angry. Still fuming over how it all started several months before.
I had just returned from a ceremony where I had received the gold medallion award for my book Jumper Fables. The plane had leveled off at 35,000 feet and I tipped my seat back to catch up on some sleep. My eyes settled on the baggage compartment where the engraved placard commemorating my accomplishment was safely stored. Then suddenly, I was sobbing. Not the quiet respectable sobs of an adult but the choking, uncontrollable, snot yielding sobs of a child. Tears streamed down my cheeks. The man sitting next to me handed me the cloth that lay on his seat back tray. I used all of it. Evidently, before the emotion that triggered this reaction had entered my conscious mind it lived for a long time at some subterranean level of my inner soul. When it was finally exposed to the light it was not a wispy apparition. It was full grown, HD quality, focused and clear as crystal. In that moment I recognized what it was that had wandered below the surface, silent and unresolved for so many years. I wanted my dad to see this plaque. I wanted to hear him say, “I am so proud of you.” I wanted to hear my dad say. “I love you.”
I grew up during the changing of the guard that controlled a man’s expression of emotions and feeling. My dad’s generation expressed love by putting food on the table and a roof over the families head. Real men didn’t outwardly express love or sorrow with spoken words. Those were signs of vulnerability and my dad survived three and a half years as a prisoner of war where vulnerability meant death.
I don’t think I ever doubted dad’s love. I just needed to hear the words.
I pulled a piece of paper from my briefcase and quickly wrote the first and only letter I ever wrote specifically to my dad. I poured out my heart. I told him what I had just experienced. I confessed that much of my driven personality came from my desire to please him and make him proud. I expressed my deep love for him and with trembling hand confessed my desire to hear him say the words, “I love you” in return.
I can still see the mailbox and smell the aroma of that morning. For days after I mailed the letter I would jump for the phone each time it rang. It might be dad. He had read my letter and now I would hear the words I was born to hear. Days became weeks and weeks stretched into months. Anticipation was replaced by disappointment and disappointment degenerated into anger. And with anger an ominous ghost of doubt sulked nearby, begging to be embraced. What if he doesn’t love me? Maybe I have to do more, be more, achieve more in order to gain his respect and love.
Now as we pulled into the driveway after 12 hours of butt numbing travel, anger once again summoned the ghost of doubt. I could feel him probing to find access to my heart. Why didn’t Dad at least acknowledge getting the letter? Did he even get the letter? What will I say when I see him?
We entered my parents home without knocking and were immediately greeted by my startled and surprised mom. Mom startles easily. She would have been startled even if we had called from the front porch to tell her we were about to open the door. Dad came and gave us each of us his trademark wrestler hug. I am sure I was stiff and unresponsive but he didn’t seem to notice. After the initial greetings he disappeared into the garage where old lawnmowers, oily chainsaws and beat up snowmobiles stood in testimony to his master skill of fixing the unfix-able.
Immediately my mom pulled me aside. “I want to show you something,” she said, motioning for me to follow. She led me into their bedroom and with a flair of pretend annoyance she said, “Stop sending your father, stuff. He is turning our bedroom into a shrine.” The room was dimly lit by a small candle sitting on a table against the wall. Next to the candle was my college graduation picture. The wall above the table was covered with dozens of newspaper clippings. There were interviews and reviews of my shows sent to dad by friends and relatives. Nestled among the clippings was an article with a picture of me receiving the gold medallion award for “Jumper Fables.”
Then a small homemade frame caught my eye. I moved closer to see the picture in the flickering light. It wasn’t a picture at all. Dad had framed the letter I had written at 35,000 feet. My knees buckled as I reach for a place to sit on the end of the bed. Tears, snot and sobs made their dramatic and unexpected entrance again.
That dimly lit wall screamed to me, “I LOVE YOU, SON!” YOU ARE MY PRIDE AND JOY!
With an audible groan, the ghost of doubt disappeared never to be seen again.
I have scavenged my brain to remember if there was a time my dad ever verbally said, the words “I love you” unfettered by qualifiers like “I love you but with a Godly love.” I just wanted to hear I love you from my dad. If he said it, that memory is lost somewhere. I couldn’t find it.
Life had not taught my dad the verbal language of love. I believe he wanted to say “I love you” but didn’t know how. He knows how to express it now, because he is with the ONE who expressed it best of all. At my fathers memorial, I made two resolutions I hope might be helpful to you.
1. I resolved to confirm my love to the people I care for with WORDS. Your family, friends and Savior long to hear “I LOVE YOU”…… Say it! Say it often!
2. I resolved to strive to understand the unspoken language proclaiming “I love you.” Scour the candle lit walls. Read the note from your child. Feel someone squeeze your hand. Even if you don’t hear the words, read between the lines and believe that you are loved.
Am I alone here? I would be honored to know how the words “I love you” or the lack of them has affected your life. Has someone built a shrine that screamed “I love you,” into your life. Did you read between the lines? Your comments are valued and anticipated.
My father was of the same generation as yours. I too never heard the words “I love you” that I longed to hear. The longing wasn’t so much from my childhood – love was assumed. It wasn’t until I was an adult that the confimation was desired.
My wife taught me to say “I love you” to my mom and dad every time we visited them It was awkward at first, because my parents didn’t say it back, just grunted and acknowledgement. But a few years before they passed away, they both came to the point that they would say “I love you” in respnse to mine.
God “opened my eys” to thier difficulty in sharing their love verbally along the way, and I came to realise that they did love me all along, they just couldn’t verbalize it.
At my father’s funeral I learned from an aunt that my dad had been raised physically and verbally abused by his parents. No wonder he couldn’t say the words of love, he never had it modeled for him! What a shame.
On their death beds I asked my parents if they had accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior – reminding them of the verses in Romans 10:9,10. To my joy, they both said “Yes.” I was overjoyed, as religion was another topic we didn’t talk about much in our family.
Ken, keep encouraging believers to express their love to their family and others, and to share their faith.
God bless you,
(Yes, I’m the man that almost stranded you in Ludington, MI at the Western Michigan Faith Fair back in 1997, I believe)
Gene, This was such a touching and encouraging comment. Thank you. I to remember MI. BTW last week I was stranded in Traverse City for three days.
Thanks for your honesty, vulnerability and just telling us like it is. My mom was the expressor of love in our family. Dad was able to say the words but they came less often than mom’s. Our dad went home to heaven the day after my 17th birthday, Christmas time. As I reflect on the last 40 years, this Dec. 27, I see God being my daddy since then, and telling me of His love more and more each day of my life. I can only say that this great love of God has healed me, empowered me and allowed me to say “I love you” to my dear family and friends more each day. Our mom also died at Christmas time, 11 years ago. In her last years of life she expressed her love to me and my sisters many times. Those words still penetrate my life and my mind with wonderful memories. Those words keep me with hope and peace, and looking forward to that day that I will be greeted in heaven by these two loving people that gave me life.
Your perspective is so right on. thank you for your comment. Have a Merry Christmas.
I agree, the older generation didn’t learn the ‘language of love’. They didn’t have the resources to learn about such than we do. However, even though my Dad never said those words, (not until a month or so before he died), but we always knew that we were loved, by his actions…things he did for us.
You learned to read between the lines. That is a blessing.
I never did hear my Dad say “I love you” while I was growing up. My Dad was very violent with me both physically and verbally and he was never there for me.
My home was a religious home but no love. I really hated my Dad and vowed I would never treat my children the way my Dad treated me. But about the time my boys were 10 years old I started to hit and yell at them. A wise older brother from church told me that I need to ask my Dad for forgiveness because I started to really hate my Dad. Like you I was trying to earn my Dad’s love. Later I came to the conclusion that my Dad did not know how to love because he did not experience love growing up. I did go to my Dad and ask for forgiveness for being so rebellious and hateful towards him. It was amazing but I stopped yelling and hitting my boys after that.
Almost 3 years ago my Dad had stomach cancer and was living alone. He had divorced 2 times and the wife he had last was in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s. My Dad needed to have someone take care of him and he wanted to stay with me and my family.
Ken, I was bathing my Dad, dressing him and tucking him in bed at night. If you would have told me 35 years ago that I would be taking care of my Dad in my home I would of said “never”. Isn’t the grace and mercy of God so amazing. What a blessing to see the light of Jesus shine in my Dad’s face and to hear him brag about me and my family.
Ken, I discovered my Dad had a sense of humor and of all things loved poetry. One last comment. When I discovered my Dad did not know how to love me I turned to my Heavenly Father and have experienced true love from Him every day of my life.
Wayne, What an incredible and inspiring story. Thank you for sharing this. The story touched me deeply and I know it will do the same for those who read it. Blessing to you. Thank you.
Wayne, I am not eloquent, but have had the same kind of relationship with my dad as you had with yours. Your last sentence says it all for me. If I may quote you, “When I discovered my Dad did not know how to love me I turned to my Heavenly Father and have experienced true love from Him every day of my life.”
Amen and amen
Thank you so much for sharing that.
We learned the hard way early in our marriage that you never leave “I love you” unsaid. Eight months after we were married, my husband’s ex-wife died very unexpectedly from pneumoccocal pneumonia. She dropped their two very young sons off for New Years weekend and never came back. They never got to tell their mama good-bye and that they loved her.
“I love you” became the most often heard words in our house. Especially between my husband and me. Not only “I love you”, but also “I love being married to you!” My dear Larry used to tease me that I could only say, “I love you” twice in one hour.
Good-bye and I love you were very important to our sons as well. Even as they grew to teenagers, our sons would tell us, “I love you, good-bye” in person and on the phone – even in front of their friends! My growing teenage boy, now grown young men, had no qualms whatsoever about hugging their parents in public and expressing their love.
Fourteen months ago, when their father died from brain cancer, we were all there with him to say, “I love you, good-bye.” My poor sons are now left with me as their only parent, but they know that I love them – no matter what. We still end every visit, every phone conversation, every text, and every chat with, “I love you, good-bye.”
You never know when it will be your last chance.
Shelly, Thank you for your comment. Words like this are always more powerful from those who have lived through it.
I agree with hearing the words. I didn’t hear them from my mother until the day before she died. I resolved that I needed to tell all 10 of my siblings before I die or they die. I have said it to 4 so I have a long way to go, but I am trying. My dad says it all the time now when we get off the phone or are leaving from a visit. I absolutely am thrilled that he is doing that. I know some of my siblings say they do not care about hearing the words, but for me it is VERY important. I try to say them to my own children often and with meaning.
Linda, Thank you for your comment. I hope you will drop me a note soon to say that you have told all your siblings. I will be cheering for you.
Linda, Thank you for your comment. Your siblings may not admit it, but everyone needs to hear those words. The words “I love you” are at the core of what Christ’s love was all about. Thanks again for your comment.
I really enjoyed this story!!!
I miss my dad too.
Thank you for commenting Lisa. Come back again.
Dude…I know and understand how you feel. I was raised in a home where the words “I love you” were often heard…but usually to and from, mom to daughter. I was away for health reasons, came home after, and looked in my father’s eyes, and told him I loved him so much. Not long after, maybe a year, he passed away. But have never forgotten the squeeze I recieved, and the words of my Dad, when I saw him for the last time. He told me he loved me, and I knew he did, but the look in his eyes said it all for me. He was a good man. Raised 6 children. Worked 3 jobs just to put food on the table for his family, at times. He was the best man I know.
Phillis, What an encouraging comment. I hope I can live up to that image with my children.
Wow. You made me cry.
My grandfather is the only dad I ever really had. He worked hard and gave the best of everything he had to me. But he didn’t say “I love you” very often. Even now, when I tell him I love him, he rarely replies. It just seems like he can’t say the words.
Funny how time tends to reverse roles…. I’m trying to be there for him as he was for me. His health is failing. His hard work and amazing generosity seems to have been forgotten by many…even by his own children and “close friends”. He’s a lonely man. I do what I can to show him love; to not only tell him that I love him, but to show him by doing whatever I can to help him and make his last days less lonely.
And I’ve been wishing he’d just say, “I love you.”
I’ve wrestled with that. Doesn’t he see how much I love him? Does he really love me…?
Your post has brought a whole new perspective to this. I may “need” to hear him say the words, but even if he never does, I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that he loves me. He’s shown it to me in a thousand ways.
Thank you, Ken!
Sounds like there is no doubt that your grandfather loves you. Sometimes the words are very hard for people to say. Rest in the knowledge that his life has communicated loud and clear… He loves you.
I listen to you often on Moody Radio in Florida. Today at lunch I heard a similar broadcast to what you have written here. I was so inspired by it that I came back to work and looked up your web site.
I was not close to my Father when he passed away four years ago because of his inability to be supportivly loving and expressive. He was, instead, very critical and I simply could not do enough or be good enough. Although he often said the words, I still did not believe them. Anyone can say the words, but actions speak so much more.
So, Ken, that is the other side of the coin. Your Father showed you his love with actions. I wish I had received that from my Father. But now that he is gone, I’ve come to accept his limitations and miss him so much. I wish I could tell him how much I loved him.
Terri, Thank you for your comment. My guess is that he knew how much you loved him. I also guess that he wished he could express his own love better.
My dad was from the same generation as yours. “A man’s man.” Every Christmas trip home, my wife urged me to give him a hug. Finally one year I made the attempt. The “Are you gay?” look took me by suprise, but did not discourage me.
From then on, he gradually opened up & showed some emotions towards me & my older brother.
Thanks for sharing your heart with us.
Alan & Tonda Wyant
Alan, So glad that you took the chance and said the words and took the first steps. Thanks for joining the conversation
My parents divorced when I was 6. My stepfather abused me. My husband committed suicide when my daughter was 18. There have been no good men as examples to us until my daughter and I became Christian. It is only at our church that we have seen such men as these, expressing love any way at all! Thanks Ken for another example I can share with my daughter. Please, everyone, pray my daughter marries a good Christian man.
Carolyn, I prayed that prayer for your daughter today. I hope the future will bring many examples of men who exemplify the love of Christ.
My father also came from the same generation where love was not expressed. When I was about 20, the Lord spoke to me and told me that he didn’t know how to express his love because his parents never did it toward him. Immediately the Lord told me to forgive him and by His grace I was able to do that once I understood what the Lord told me.
As he lay in his coffin many years later I was so thankful that the issue of forgiveness had been taken care of years before.
When I became a father I asked the Lord to enable me to be just the opposite of him and so I hug my kids and grandkids all the time even when they don’t want me to. There is an “inner need” that I have to express my love toward them because it is so totally unconditional like our Father’s love is toward us. Thanks for sharing your heart with the world and on FB.
Larry, What a great comment. Thank YOU for sharing with us.
My daughter said to me today, “Mommy, why are you always tired?” It caught me off-guard, because she was completely unaware of what seemed so obvious to me.
In our family, my husband works at home in full-time ministry. It’s a small church, so for right now, he doesn’t receive an income from the church. My job then, is way God has chosen to provide an income for us.
I work in an office, so my days are not filled with hard labor, but there are plenty of deadlines, stresses and pressures that often follow me home. I’ve come to understand and totally relate to why Dads of old used to come home, kick back, and read the newspaper. My “Mom” role however doesn’t give me this luxury. Though my husband helps out enormously with the children (5 of ’em!) and the home, I’ve never been able to come home and not think about 15 or more things that still need to be done–the “maybe-this-weekend” stuff like hem the boy’s pants before he grows out of them, clean off the top of the fridge, organize that pile of papers on my desk, etc.
As I read your blog and the comments longing for the words, “I love you” from our Dads, I thought about my daughter and how she and her siblings see me. When she asked why I was so tired, inside I wanted to scream and say, “Don’t you realize everything I do for you??? I go to work every day — even when I don’t feel good and stay late to make deadlines that I can’t control, so that our family can have a nice home! Not to mention the mathematical antics I go through to make sure the lights stay on and heaven-forbid the cable TV doesn’t get turned off!
And I realized that, nope, she doesn’t see any of that — she just wants Mommy! Oh, how I long to just be “a mommy!” I do tell them, “I love you,” when I tuck them in at night. I hope that they remember. I hope they don’t remember the exhaustion on my face. I hope they do remember that they were able to play baseball and basketball, have fun and be “kids”. I hope they don’t remember that I didn’t make it to all the games.
For those of us whose Dads didn’t talk much, remember the times they spent with us. Remember that maybe we didn’t have much, but we didn’t go hungry. Remember that there were alot of struggles in our parents’ lives that we never knew about. Remember that even if our earthly father wasn’t what he should have been, our Heavenly Father used him to give us life, and that HE can make up for whatever is/was lacking.
Happy Father’s Day! to all the Dads out there — those with children of their own and those who are role models to the children in their families and neighborhoods.
Erica, Thank you for your touching comment. Don’t stop looking for those moments in a busy life to reassure your love with words. And thank you for your encouraging words to me and other readers. Come back again.
Erica, I’m a single mother and I too face the guilt & pain of not having enough time for my 6 year old boy. He sometimes tells me -crying- why am I so stressed? I constantly have to stop doing the things I need to do to spend time with my son. Often then not, I resent that. We are so busy. We attend church, have him in Cub-scouts, AWANA and some type of sport. I attend a weekly Bible study, hit the gym (for my sanity) and am starting a single mom’s ministry at my church. I’m torn between giving my son what I think he needs & desires and giving him what he actually says he needs/desires. I too ask the Lord that my son will forget the times his mother was stressed and running around trying to do things that had to be done. I pray that He will remember that his mother loved him so much and that she tried being both a mother & father to him. I will take Ken’s advice to reassure my son of my great love & care for him.
I am so glad that your dad did show you that he loved you in such a profoundly special way. My dad told me that he loved me, but I was very confused by it. His way of life was a “do as I say and not as I do” kind of life. As I read your blog, the first idea that came to my mind in response was the memory of my dad saying, “I’m sorry.” What he was sorry for is too personal to share here, but it meant the world to me to hear those words. Each time he said “I love you” since that day, they rang true in my heart.
Debbie, In my book “How to live with your kids when you have already lost your mind” I talk about the truth you have illuminated. The words “I’m Sorry” are powerful words of love. They also communicate volumes about forgiveness. Thakn you for your insight.
Ken – I can honestly tell you that your story hit the core of my heart, my Dad has always done as your Dad had done…provided for the family and felt that was love enough. I wrote a similar letter to my Dad when I was in college after seeing all the “love” notes my college roommate received from her Dad – I couldn’t believe how much He could tell her that he loved her and I had not one shred of paper to prove it from my Dad. I thankfully received a returned letter with a “I Love You” at the end of the page…I loved it and hoped it would be the beginning of many…it was not. I have learned that I make the hug happen with my Dad and I say the I Love you…no matter what. My Dad’s father had passed when he was only 5 years old and he had no model of how to love as a Dad…he has done amazingly well considering…and we are working on the rest! Thanks for your candid sharing of this intimate story what a blessing it was.
THE MOST WONDERFUL MAN IN MY LIFE WAS A RABBI – DO NOT GET ME WRONG MY DAD WAS REALLY GREAT TO ME & MY CHILDREN. HE HAD – DAN CHRIS NICHOLE EVA ROBERT AS GRAND CHILDREN ALSO BUT; HE APPRECIATED THAT MY 2 WERE THE ONLY ORPHANS & THEY WERE THE ONLY ONES TO REALLY MAKE HIM PROUD TO BE A GRAND-PA. MY SON HAROLD WAS A MARINE & STILL WENT THRU COLLEGE & THROUGH A COMPANY TRAVELED INTERNATIONALLY 2 HELP WITH THE FOREIGN COUNTRY COMPANIES FINANCES. ROLANDA WENT TO THE UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH & BECAME A CHEMIST WITH ALMOST NO HELP – NONE OF US WERE SMART ENOUGH TO BE HELPFUL. I ALSO HAD 2 GREAT HUSBANDS – WE HAD OUR PROBLEMS BUT; BOTH OF THEM SHOWED THEIR LOVE FOR ME BOTH MY MOTHER & MOTHER- IN- LAW TOLD ME THEY WERE JEALOUS OF THE LOVE MY HUSBANDS HAD OF ME! RABBI MILT WAS A PERSON WHO ENDED HIS TIME WITH YOU WITH “WALK WITH THE LORD & BE A BLESSING” — HE DIED SOMETIME AGO BUT; HE WAS ONE WHO WOULD STOP!!! NO MATTER WHAT HE WAS DOING – I LEARNED EVERY ONE IS AS IMPORTANT AS G-D MADE THEM & THEY WERE THAT IMPORTANT TO MILT TOO. NEVER FELT SOOOOOOOOOO-O-O MUCH LOVE. I WAS A WIDOW THUS OFTEN THE PEOPLE JUST WALKED BY TO GO ON WITH THEIR LIVES & HE SHOWED ME — WHAT REAL AGAPE LOVE WAS LIKE. HE TALKED MY 2ND HUSBAND & SAID IT WAS GOING TO BE “OK” TO MARRY A 3RD TIME. 1ST HE WAS A WIDOW & 2ND HIS WIFE, HIS 1ST WIFES NURSE, CHEATED ON HIM & HE SENT A MAN THRU A PLATE GLASS WINDOW BUT; EVEN THO’ HIS 1ST MARRIAGE WAS ONLY 1 YEAR & SHE HAD A GIRL & DIED. & THE 2ND WAS GONE IN 1 YEAR. WE HAVE BEEN MARRIED 16 YEARS, THANKS TO MILT !! MY HUSBAND, HAROLD DIED WHEN I WAS 28 & IT WAS ALSO VERY DIFFICULT FOR ME TO REMARRY BUT: THANKS TO LOVE MILT GOT US TOGETHER. OUR WEDDING SONG – WE BOTH SANG WAS – WE’LL BUILD A HOUSEHOLD OF LOVE ATHAT TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE.
WE GO TO CHURCH & SYNAGOGUE & I AM A SECURITY GUARD FOR OUR JEWISH HOME. rOLANDA & HER FRIEND TRACY WERE TAUGHT HEBREW IN A CLASS HE HAD. ONE TIME MY DAUGHTER LEFT HOME & WE HAD NO IDEA WHAT HAPPENED – MILT PRAYED WITH US! RIGHT AFTER THAT MY MOM FOUND OUT SHE WAS STAYING WITH A WOMEN THT MY MOM USED TO WORK WITH & SAID ROLANDA WOULD BE SAFE THERE. MILT WAS BROUGHT INTO THE PICTURE AGAIN WHEN SHE WANTED TO LEAVE THE SITUATION & DID NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO just a YOUNG TWEEN – HE TOOK TIME TO GET ALL OF US TOGETHER & WORKED IT OUT SO SHE CAME BACK HOME TO FINISH SCHOOL- WE’VE NEVER LET MILT KNOW HOW MUCH WE LEANED ON HIM. HOPE HE KNEW IT ANYWAY. THANK G-D FOR A MAN WHO KNEW HOW TO LOVE PEOPLE HE DID NOT REALLY KNOW. WHAT A MAN RABBI MILT MAIMAN WAS!!!
How wonderful for you to have had such a friend. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and the life of your friend.
Your column about your dad hit me between the eyes! I grew up with a dad that never once told me he loved me first, without being prompted, or asked. Oh I have a mom that TOLD me he loved me from the day I hit planet earth. She showed me how he loved me-how he provided for our famiy-cared for our safety-our spiritual condition, etc. But I was a girl that needed THE WORDS. I knew my dad was sixth of eight children and never got a hug from his parents or heard THE WORDS. He said he just KNEW they loved him because there was food on the table and a roof overhead. Everybody I knew had food and a house. Big deal. I needed the words, and besides that I heard enough words in my young life to know there were “those girls” that never heard THE WORDS from their fathers and sought out THE WORDS from other boys/men who would tell them THE WORDS and I DID NOT want to be one of “those girls” so I spent my childhood years running to my Daddy and saying, “I love you Daddy, do you love me?” He’d say “Yes I do, or You better believe it, or You know I do” But me being the bossy but fully aware of what I needed would say, “But Daddy would you tell me the words?” And then he’d say, “Yes, Kimbo I love you.” I actually told him in my teens that I always knew he loved me, but for some reason couldn’t say the words, but knew he wanted to, and I was very willing to help him! It wasn’t until I read your column that it hit me that maybe his time as a POW in WW2 affected him in the same way as your father. My dad is 85 now, married 66 years this past July to my mom. He’s confined to a chair, suffering from some rare auto-immune disease that the doctors do not agree on. He is so helpless physically, but now when I tell him I love him, he tells me right back in his labored speech, “I-love-YOU-Kimbo”.
Thank you so much for your ministry,
your words were heart wrenching,honest and memorable…thank you!…i’ve always longed for the love of my father, well my step-father, the only father i ever knew…he had difficulty expressing his love for me, he never raised his voice at me, never hit me, scolded,… nothing!, he always spoke gently or sometimes just never spoke…yet i was screaming to know all of that from him..but i remember a note i left him one year, at the time he was writing exams…i scribbled in between his notes on his note-pad “i love you” and he scribbled back..”i love you too”…it is not much, but it is all i can remember…my father died 23 yrs ago. i still miss him and sometimes its unbearable…i wish i could give back to him for all the things he did for me as a child….i heal by loving my mother and being there for her because he wouldv’e wanted that.
thank you for this column
I too had veryvstoic parents. They spoke in general terms ” of course I love my kids” or I love all my kids the same. I don’t remember hearing the words I love you spoken just to me by my mother or father. Many times i would feel rejected and unloved. I was the youngest of seven. My mother commented often thatcshe didn’t knowcif she would live to see me grown. I felt I was an accident, an oops. Years later as a wife and mother I decided to speak the words often to my husband and children. Yet I longed to hear the words from my parents. When I ended a phone call home I always told them “I love you mom, love you dad. There response was always the same..”you to”. My husband received a job offer the would require us to move eightvhours from my parents and family. It was difficultcto leave everyone behind. As I prepared to get in my van and drive off I turned to my parents, gave them a hug and said I love you. They both replied “you too”. I stopped looked at them and repeated ” I said I love you”. They looked puzzled and responded “you too”. I looked at them again and repeated ” I said..I LOVE YOU…and waited for what seemed an eternity. Then my mother said those wonderful words “I love you..drive safe. My dad still looked rather confused. I turned to him and repeated I love you and waited. I repeated to him. I SAID I love you. He got the message and spoke the words I longed to hear. I told them I needed to HEAR they loved me. During our weekly phone calls after my move they continued to say I love you at the end of each call.
Now that both of my parents have gone to be with the Lord I am so thankful I heard the words from them. At a recent family reunion several commented that mom and dad had started saying I love you to them the last few years they were alive. My family noticed the change but didn’t understand why until I explained what I had done. It felt wonderful that my entire family was also blessed to hear the words I love you from our parents before they were gone.
Thank you for that story – I wept for the “I love you’s” I haven’t received. I am nearly 66 and my Dad died in 1946 when I was 7 months old, and my Mum died when I was 30 and pregnant with my 4th child. I do miss the verbal approvals that I needed through the years, and the ‘bear’ hugs since my brother died at 70 – but I have felt my Jesus hug me and call me precious, and He talks to me often, and reminds me constantly of our worship songs, like “Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me”, so I am really blessed indeed!
I get your e mail updates & sometimes they sit in the in box untill I allow myself TIME to read them properly. Got today’s and saw the link to ‘what did you say on fathers day’ …… It’s my dads Birthday tomorrow the one day in the year he allows his girls to make a fuss! If I had my way I would make that fuss every day. I am blessed to have both parents @ 77 and still here to share memories with. I have your now world famous ( well with all my friends in Suffolk England that is ) podcast ‘when hope never dies’ from Willow Creak. That podcast changed the way I try to live my life and makes me laugh and cry in equal measure ……. But most of all it helps me to remember that ‘ love’ is the key.
I shall be sure to hug my Dad from both of us xx
mom and I had a hurtful relationship I guess we both thought the other was our enemy. From 3 years old I began to hate her… years passed and finally several years after I received Jesus God spoke verbally to me telling me “You not only forgive your mother but all mothers” to which i violently revolted… ending up in tears…in His kind voice He told me to tell the mothers that He appreciates all thats in the mothers heart to do for their children”. I sat on the floor stunned by that thought… I never saw my mothers heart, I only heard words “you cant go here and you cant go there and you have to help me with the children…you have to do the dishes…” Cindarella was what i felt like. I wanted a relationship with mom…Immediately I called mom…I was 50 years old… I shared the words God told me and restoration took place, hearts were healed. Mom was ill so we never developed a relationship but everyday as she lay bedridden… I told her those words “remember mom, God appreciates all thats in your heart to do for your children” Moms, no doubt feel the hurts by the attitudes and complaints of their children despite their best efforts so the words God gave me comforted and assured mom she was appreciated and that God knew she did her best, I also told her that because she accepted Jesus when she would leave earth she would go to be with Him. Both Dad and Mom accepted Jesus and are with Him.
Ken, I swear you are just mind blowing to me this morning, and I’m so late in reading the blogs. My Daddy is still alive, he’s 67, I’m 39, he has survived 3 heart attacks, 2 major surgeries, and we thought what would be a heart transplant, but by God’s grace, he made it, and it never happened, first heart attack he was 44, God’s been merciful. My Dad came to my mind when you described your Dad. I feel so selfish because I want my Daddy to be here when I graduate in a few semesters with my bachelors. See, he’s never said he loves me either, he really won’t let you hug and definately no kisses, but he does my children. I have always been able to rely on him, so the thought of my Daddy “gone” is just something I can’t think about. My “run to you” strength is gone, even though it wasn’t really an emotional loving aspect, he was there, and still is. He’s had a stroke recently, and from the last heart attack, only 15% of his heart is working, but he still drives, and pushes himself to go, he comes up here and brings my kids doughnuts and dr. pepper, and will do piddly things around our house here, that he doesn’t think is good enough :~) The few times I do get to hug him, I love hearing his heart beat, and it reminds me it won’t always be this way :~( Thanks for sharing your story about your Dad, he seems like he was a great man that loved you alot, be blessed and lots of love, Trisha, Salem VA.
I grew up in a very broken home, both because my parents divorced, but also emotionally. There was pain all around, and unresolved issues from my parents upbringing that didn’t help either. My Father never really wanted to spend much time with me as I was growing up, so I was usually left to my own defenses to get his attention. When he would come and get my sister and I and take us over to his Mom’s where he lived at the time. I would sneak off when no one noticed and would hide somewhere and wait to see if they would miss me at all. And sometimes it would take them a long time to find me.I would eventually hear someone say, where is Sharon? And then they would start looking for me? Evntually I would come out and find them, and they would say, where were you? And I would say, I was hiding to see how long it would take before you would miss me? My Dad told me and my sister that he loved us by going out on Friday nights and staying out real late, coming back drunk, and then sleeping in real late, and not wanting to do anything wiht us but hang out and do what he wanted to do all the time. It wasn’t until right before I got married that my Dad really showed me the first glimmer of his real love for me, by not drinking so that he could walk me down the aisle at my wedding. He did it. And I was so grateful that he was sober and was making such an effort to make my day so special. So I read into that I love you, Sharon. Unfortunately my Dad drank and smoked very heavily, and it took its toll on his body. And he almost drank himself to death one night. But didn’t and I went down to visit him and didn’t recognize him. When he was awake, I got to talk with him about God giving him a second chance here at a new beginning at life. And not to waste this gift that God was giving to him. I prayed for my Dad that day in teh hospital and asked God to heal him, and to work in his heart. He never drank after that, and unfortunately didn’t live real long afterward, but I hope and pray that one day I will get to hear the words I love you Sharon from my Dad. I know my heavenly Father loves me. And that is great! I miss having my Step Dad around who was like a Dad to me and loved me and was a Spiritual Father to me as well, he encouraged my faith in Jesus and told me often that he loved me. So I knew that he loved me, and I know he knew that I loved him. I still can’t wait to see him and tell him again how much I love him though. Thanks for letting me share my story with you.
The reason i love this article is because i can relate to it my mother died when i was just 9 years old so my father had to raise me alone he doesnt like hugs he doent like kisses the only thing compoting that he gives me is a snuggle when i am upset or
My dad probably never heard anyone tell him that he was loved or valued, except from my mom. When he spoke, it was usually in anger, or to say something utterly hurtful like “not bad for a girl”. Never the less, I was there all night at his hospital bed holding his hand, cuz I knew that God wanted me to and I wanted to speak to my dad in a way that he would understand. I have a gift from God to be able to at times see His angels. In the middle of that night, I got to meet the angel that would escort my dad “home” the next day. Everything that was between dad and I was settled that night without either of us saying a word. I never heard him say that he loved me or was proud of me, but in his own way, that night, dad told me. I’m so glad that I listened to God when He told me to go hold dads’ hand all night. If I would have said no, I won’t go, to God’s request, I would still hold much anger towards my dad for the things that he had said and done to me. That night, everything became easier to deal with and now I have less night “terrors” (look it up). I sleep better and I pray that dad is in heaven with God and all the angels.
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