My dad was not a good receiver.
Shortly after he and my mom eloped they had their first fight. Disagreeing over sending out wedding announcements, he argued, “You’re just asking for a gift.”
The same scene repeated itself years later when I graduated from high school and my mom sent out graduation invitations. Four years later, there was another battle when my mom battled to send out college graduation announcements.
Even when I gave my dad presents for his birthday, Christmas and Father’s Day he always said, “you shouldn’t have done it.” Yet, I could tell from the sparkle in his eye that he was glad I had taken the time to remember him.
With Father’s Day only weeks away, snap shots from his life are, again, replaying in my mind. My father was a lawyer, but he didn’t make a lot of money. He came from a poor family and drove a trolley car in San Francisco to support his parents during the Great Depression. He cleaned toilets, washed dishes, and delivered newspapers to put himself through school. Graduating from law school in his mid-thirties, he took a job as an attorney at a title insurance company. After years of working at the title company, he moonlighted, practicing law at nights in our country home.
I owe a lot to my dad. It’s from him that I get my sense of integrity.
There was the time when he saved a poor farmer thousands of dollars by discovering a loop hole in a will. Grateful, the farmer, who was also our neighbor, tried to pay my dad a considerable reward, but my father refused to take any money.
There was another time when he drove an hour back to a grocery store to give the clerk the 25 cents in change that she had accidentally overpaid him. As a child, sitting in the back seat, I thought, “now here’s an honest man.”
I also remember when I was a little girl and lost my favorite doll, “Baby“. When I accidentally dropped Baby in a department store, he drove thirty miles back, with me bawling, in the front seat, the entire trip. When Baby wasn’t there I remember how we drove all over Ft. Worth late at night to find “New Baby“.
Years later when I was a young college coed, he drove for hours, again in the dark, to my dormitory to talk me out of marrying the wrong guy.
When I graduated from college, although he didn’t believe in asking anyone else for gifts, he bought me a beautiful clock radio, just because he said he was proud of me. I think it was the words, “I’m so proud of you” that I treasured more than the radio.
When I married and started a family, he was still telling me on those special occasions, “you shouldn’t have given me anything” but I always saw that twinkle in his eye when I gave him a gift.
But there’s one present I never gave him and I wished that I had. I guess it was because I was waiting for him to give it to me.
I never said “I love you.”
It’s too late now. He’s been gone now for eleven Father’s Days and is with his Heavenly Father. It’s too late for me to see the twinkle in his eye.
Maybe it was because he wasn’t good at receiving, that I feared the rejection of “you shouldn’t have done that.“ But you know I don’t think he would have said, “you shouldn’t have said that.”
I think he probably would wrapped his strong, steady arm around my waist and said, shyly, “you, too, kiddo.”
So if you’re a father, don’t hesitate. Some time in the midst of the backyard barbeque and opening up your Father's Day cards and gifts, tell your children that you love them. I know that my father loved me, but I yearned to hear him say the words.
Or, if you still have a father, don’t wait for him. You make the first move. Tell your dad that you love him.
I wish I could turn back the clock and finally give my dad that most priceless gift that I never gave him. It’s too late for me, but hopefully, it’s not too late for you.
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