As a life coach for men and the publisher of a newsletter, I’m sometimes blessed with personal stories from readers that touch my heart. This story sent in from a father helped me to remember why I’m doing what I do. I’d like to share it with you:
“As a father of two teens, I’‘ve enjoyed your insight on fatherhood. I was raised in a loving family environment, but just as you indicated, my father was the primary breadwinner and the “backbone” of the family, not an emotional type. As a child, I never saw him cry or appear weak, nor did he ever utter the words “I love you”. It was just not in his vocabulary, though I never doubted his love for any of us.
It was not until his last hours on this earth, nearly 9 years ago, that I saw him cry for the first time. Suffering from the side effects of leukemia, I was visiting him in his hospital room.
As I sat on the side of his bed feeding him ice chips and jello cubes by spoon, it occurred to me that we had reversed roles. He was no longer caring for my needs, but I was there to help him with his basic needs.
We talked about things that we’‘d never discussed previously, and as I was preparing to return home to my family for the night, I turned my father and said “I love you.” He smiled and nodded his approval as I exited his room for the last time.
Unfortunately, he’‘d been experiencing internal bleeding, though he never complained or mentioned it to me, and he expired some three hours after I left.
I feel fortunate to have spent those last hours with him and that I could express my love to him, though I felt out of character in doing it. I only wish that it had occurred years earlier.
As a father myself, I’ve broken the male mold. I freely express my love not only for my wife but for each of my children. Rarely does a day pass that I don’‘t talk with my kids, always ending the conversation with an “I love you”.
I’‘ll be the first to admit that life is not always a bed of roses, and that developing strong family ties requires patience and perseverance. But I’m incredibly proud of the family relationships that we’‘ve developed and nurtured in our children.”
Millions of today’s fathers grew up with fathers who were unable to express their love directly. And yet so many of these fathers have been able to express their love to their own children in a more direct fashion.
They’ve done it because they know the pain of not receiving that direct love. They know how absolutely vital their expression of love and acceptance is for their kids. And they’ve moved past the discomfort of expressing their love for their kids so their kids may thrive.
This is an acknowledgement to the courage of all the fathers that have ”broken the mold.”
If our world is to change, it won’t be without a lot more molds being broken. Have you broken yours yet?
Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC