I have a very competitive spirit, coming from an athletic family, and especially trying to keep up with my three brothers. But this weekend, when my dad said I was “the best,” I had mixed feelings. First, I felt a gentle acknowledgment, followed by a wish that we were all better.
How have you told your loved ones that you love them?
My dad, Geno, has been going to a lot of funerals, and to his surprise, he often hears the positive impact he has had on the family’s lives as their neighbor, teacher, coach, or community activist.
Funerals are often the time when we acknowledge those that have passed. Why do we wait until they are gone to tell them what they mean to us?
Last week during one of my restless nights, I started thinking about what I love about my dad.
He has been a leader in his community, not a follower. Especially in the last ten years, he’s boldly taken a stand, been regularly published writing to the editor, and marched for months protesting for “Black Lives Matter.” He demonstrates that any discomfort he feels is worth getting his message out for the greater good.
His tall, thin stature, deep voice, and flair for fashion commands notice and respect. With the help of his daily exercises and stretches, you’d never guess he’s 88.
My dad’s desire to be attractive and manage his image was difficult for me when he wasn’t always kind about my weight or scraggly hair.
A redeeming factor is that I can tell him what upsets me. I appreciate that he is open to hearing from me. He listens, asks questions, apologizes (if appropriate), and is accountable. As a couples therapist, I know we all make mistakes and do things that hurt our loved ones. It’s how they make corrections and respond to confrontations that speaks to their character.
If actions speak louder than words, my dad has supported the underprivileged, racial diversity, fought for equality and humanitarianism.
My dad also tried to provide athletic opportunities for me and the girls in my school when they were limited. During my woodworking shop class, I made a laminated cutting board. It was his dad, my Grandpa, who said, “I didn’t know girls could do that.”
It’s one thing to say girls should have equal rights. It’s another thing to participate in historically traditional “women’s chores,” cooking, cleaning the house, laundry, and parenting. In so many ways, I can see that my dad has been such a support and inspiration.
Thomas woke up hearing my sniffles. “Are you okay?” he asked. “I love my dad so much,” I softly said.
I was excited to tell my dad and was glad we were together over the weekend. When I told him, he was touched. Exclaiming it was almost too much to take in.
When we reflected that we’re not that good at telling each other what we love, he said, “you’re the best.”
I wish we were all better. With Tantra, I have felt more connected to love and more comfortable speaking my feelings.
And lastly, another thing I love about my dad is his humor, but don’t tell him. He is a very punny guy.
By Sara Biewen Stout