I’ve been thinking about my father recently. He passed away 19 years ago but I remember him often. We had a distant relationship—most likely a reflection of both the generation he was a part of (he was a Depression child) and his family upbringing.
My father never told me he loved me. He didn’t hug me. He didn’t play ball with me. My brothers and I had a ritual (created by our mother) of kissing my father good night every evening before bed. But the sentiment wasn’t returned. I do have some isolated memories of dad teaching me to ride a bike, or swimming with me in the town pool or in the ocean on vacation. Those are fleeting, but vivid memories. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I needed him to be with me. To hug me, teach me, tell me he loved me.
Fast forward to the time I had my own family. My parents had a somewhat nasty divorce, and my brother Don and I talked about cutting all ties with my father. We blamed him and his emotional abandonment for the divorce. For a few months, we didn’t speak to him. Then, one day, Don and I talked on the phone (I was living in the Midwest at the time) and we decided it wasn’t right or good for anyone to blame dad. So we decided to reach out and make amends. It turned out to be a wonderful decision and gift.