Everyday and especially at night before you go to sleep, I will ask you both the question as if it were the very first time I had ever asked – “How Much Does Daddy Love You?” The answer to which you always reply – “More Than Life Itself!” One day my sons – you will wonder why this daily ritual was so important to me and why did I insist on speaking out loud the 3 Most Important Words – “I Love You?” Well, the truth is, I always wanted to help paint the picture and fully express the very essence and dept of my infinite love for you, so that there will never be room for any doubt on this subject. I wanted speaking about love and expressing our love to one another to be common place and as natural as breathing air.
To explain further – I have to tell you a few things about my childhood. No, this is not a story about how I had to walk ten miles to school everyday in the snow or how we didn’t have running water or only 3 channels on the television with no remote. (Smile) No, that was my father’s generation that knew more abut that experience. The truth is I grew up doing a time when parents especially fathers seemed slightly distant and reserve when it came to showing and telling their authentic feelings and emotions to their children.
My Daddy, an “Original OLD SCHOOL DAD® was no different than the average man regarding this subject called love. Like most men in our community and around the country he shared a kindred spirit and mentality about how a man should conduct himself around his family. Bottom-line, my father was a product of the non-sensitive Daddy’s of the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s. He loved my sister and me but he didn’t know how to tell us. I can count on my fingers the number of times he actually initiated saying the 3 most important words. Don’t misunderstand…my father loved us with all his heart and soul; he just didn’t say it out loud. You see, there were not many “sensitivity parenting” classes for men to sign up for back then and even if there had been, I’m sure daddy would have probably skipped that class as would most men of his generation.
He was a complex man but he made life seem simple. He was hard-working and God-fearing. He loved his family, country and community and showed his love by providing for his family and helping others. He never got sick, never missed work, didn’t drink alcohol and went to church more than I care to remember. I say that with love because when daddy went to church that meant we all had to go to church. What I”m trying to say is this…daddy wasn’t attempting to reinvent the wheel…he was very content with simply replicating it by being the best dad he could be based on how his dad had demonstrated fatherhood to him.
Every now and then…Dad and I would have a real moment and he would try so hard to communicate (to me – his little man-child) how much he cared about me. What I remember about those times was how it always felt awkward for both of us. It was like trying to pretend you knew the latest dance steps but your feet were totally off beat. Ultimately, we would look and sound clumsy but never-the-less, the act itself was overwhelming. I loved spending time with him. I felt that he physically was so strong and powerful and smart and I believe that there was nothing we couldn’t overcome as a family if he was driving the bus. So, more importantly, than having a smooth ride, I knew what he was trying to say even when he failed to say it. Even if the words may have escaped his lips…his kind eyes told the truth. He really did love me even if he couldn’t say it. And it didn’t really matter. What mattered most to me was that I felt safe and I knew that he cared. For my father, I think it was more important to show his feelings for his family through hard work and dedication and through his generous acts of kindness and deeds. He believed that man-kind was fundamentally good and he always tried to help improve upon that goodness.
Spankings? Yes, Yes and Yes…from time-to-time we did get spankngs. Who knows…before you judge it – keep in mind that the jury is still out on that issue. After all these years, we are still split down the middle on this question. I certainly believe that I turned out okay and Lord knows I got my fair share of spankings. Not just from my parents…but teachers, principles and concerned church members and neighbors. Back then we really did accept and practice the idea that “it takes a village to raise a child.” Maybe, the bible is correct when it suggest that “he that spare the rod – spoil the child.” (Proverbs 13:24) But one things is for sure…Dad was there and his presence was always felt throughout the house and I am so grateful that it worked out that way for me. I was always proud of him and I never told him enough until much later in life. I should have…but I guess I didn’t know how to express my feelings either back then and I didn’t think much about the notion that one day he would be gone. I realize now that no one knows the hour when life will say “Game Over!” So, this is why I want to express in this moment just how much I love you and want the absolute best for you.
Maybe you’re thinking…”why are you writing this daddy?” Well, I write this article today for you (Jacob and Joshua) because I want you to know that we are a proud family with proud traditions and heritage and it is now your opportunity and responsibility to take your life to the next level. I plan to be there with you leading the charge until at some point you will say to me – ”Dad, I Got This…I Can Handle It!” It has taken me many years to recognize this fact about my relationship with my Dad but now that’s what makes each moment of my relationship with you boys even more special.
My mother use to tell me and it’s true that “God doesn’t put more on you than you can handle.” So, get on with it. Get on with life. Live each day as if it were your last because one day…you will be right. The truth for us as a family is that you are standing on the shoulders of a lot of strong, intelligent, successful and fantastic people and we can not be separated not even in death. It is your father’s fathers’ fathers’ fathers’ fathers’ father’s father’s blood that you have running through your veins and there is no separation. We Are One! Forever and Always! So Do You Know The Answer?
I Love You,
* John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (sons).