Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The only way I knew how.....

I picked up the phone. Even though I was spending Father's Day with my husband and the father of my children, I had some guilt on my conscience that I wasn't even going to see my dad on this day.

He wouldn't care. He isn't really into "days" like this.

At least I don't think he is. He would never say and he is too hard to read.

We had planned a camping trip and were out of town so a phone call was going to have to do.

The first call I placed was to the house. He wasn't home....or at least, not inside.

Secondly, I called his cell. Voicemail.

I shrugged and looked at Steven.

"Just leave a message", he said.

"Um, Dad?" I said to the silence, "I was just calling to tell you 'Happy Father's Day'. I got you a card but didn't get a chance to give it to you the other night at B's birthday party....you left too soon. I will get it to you soon." (pause) "Um...well....I hope you enjoy your day! Don't work too hard." (Hanging up)

I turned and looked at Steven. "I didn't say I love you. I thought about it and then didn't. I thought it might be awkward for him....isn't that weird?"

I felt heavy inside. Partially because I want to have the relationship with my dad where I can give him a giant hug and say "I love you" freely, without giving it a second thought and partially because I felt like I should have went ahead and said it anyway....throwing caution to the wind.

It will never be this way. I know it. I can count on one hand how many times that my dad has told me he loves me in my lifetime. Maybe he said it more when I was younger....but I don't remember. It doesn't come natural to him and he will tell you himself that his parents didn't often tell him.

I am not sure how I broke the tradition but I did.

I gobble up affection from my children and can't tell them enough how much I love them..... I tell them many, many, many times a day.

I hope I always do.

I am sure that as they grow there will be times when they don't want to hear it and times when I don't want to say it.

I hope I still do.

I felt bad just leaving a message so I called again and this time heard his real live voice.


"Dad...hey! Um....did you get my message earlier?"

"Yeah? Well....I just wanted to say 'Happy Father's Day'..... Have you had a good day? Are you keeping cool?....."

The conversation just kinda trailed off to easier things to talk about: what he had done that day, the chores that he had left to do, the weather..... As we said our goodbyes I knew that I had another chance to take the first step and to say the words that were so hard to say.

And I still didn't.

I don't know if I shied away for me, or for him.

Either way....they remained unspoken.

That afternoon, maybe because he knew it was in my head and on my heart, Steven asked me if I had heard the new song out by Bucky Covington.

I hadn't.

Steven doesn't generally take note of who sings what song -especially this "new breed" stuff. He suggested that I listed to it when I got a chance and I knew that I would.


On the way home, as luck would have it, the song came on.

Although sung by a man, about a man, this song spoke to me. I KNEW the father in the song. He was mine. Everything about the song resonated within me.....it was written about the relationship I have with my father.

I was glad that Steven shared it with me.

(click above to listen)
For the longest time, I guess I thought he didn't give a damn.
Hard to read, hard to please- Yeah, that was my old man.
On the day I left for college, it was nothing new
We never had that heart-to-heart, he had too much to do.
He checked the air in my tires, the belts & all the spark plug wires,
said "when the hell's the last time you had this oil changed?"
And as I pulled out the drive he said, "Be sure and call your mom sometime"
And I didn't hear it then, but I hear it now......He was saying "I love you"
The only way that he knew how.
120,000 miles, six years down the road - a brand new life and a brand new wife
We'd just bought our first home
When he finally came to visit, I thought he'd be so proud
He never said he liked the place, he just got his tool belt out.
...and put new locks on the doors, went back & forth to the hardware store
Said "come and hold this flashlight" as he crawled beneath the sink
And "these old wires ain't up to code" and "that circuit box is gonna overload"
And I didn't hear it then, but I hear it now......He was saying "I love you"
The only way that he knew how.
Last Sunday, we all gathered for his 65th birthday
and I knew he'd stiffen up, but I hugged him anyway
When it was finally time to say goodbye, I knew what was next
Just like he always does...right before we left:
He checked the air in my tires, the belts and all the spark plug wires
Said, "When the hell's the last time you had this oil changed?"
And as I pulled out the drive he said "be sure and call your mom sometime"
And I didn't hear it then...... but I hear it now.
He was saying "I love you" the only way that he knew how.
The only way that he knew how.

(sorry....apparently there was a problem with blogger. It wouldn't let me center, or space)


ExamBo said...

It is better to say the words now, even if it feels awckward, then to regret never saying them when it is to late. I know your dad, the type of man he is, he might not say those words back but he will cherish the fact that you said them to him.

Manda said...

great story! i just heard that song this morning, actually! :)