Breaking the Silence and Sins of our Fathers

When my father was a boy, his father never spoke directly to him. He would always turn to the mom and say, “tell the boys to do this!”

When I was a boy, my father would sit in his oversized chair, staring at the TV at anything that moved.

I remember handing him a report card to sign. It was nearly straight A’s, with maybe a B thrown in.

My proud smile faded as he looked down, signed it, and handed it back in silence.

“What’s it going to take to get your attention?” I wondered, slumping my shoulders, and slinking out of the room.

I never really found out.

My dad was a good man. He was always quick to tell a joke to his friends and any stranger that hadn’t heard that one before. He was generous. Everything I wanted, I got.

Except for a kind word of encouragement.

When people would beam at me and tell me how proud my father was of me, I always just smiled and thought, “I wish he’d tell me that.”

I know he loved me, even if he couldn’t say it.

I held his hand on the day he passed away.

We just didn’t have the language for it.

Enter the Teen.

He also doesn’t have the language for it.

But last night he came out of his cocoon (his room, but also his shell) to have a very long, honest conversation.

Sparing the details, he told me things that I hadn’t known before. He shared the things that literally keep him up at night.

I listened… and said as many encouraging words as I could.

I think he heard them…

I’m just not sure it was enough.

But I’m determined to break the cycle.

To be the father I never had.

Or the father he never had.

So, this morning I sent him a text (he’s sleeping after all).

I thanked him for his honesty and openness.

I thanked him for his genuine concern for other people.

I reassured him that no matter what I’m here for him.

And I told him how proud I am of the man that he is, and who he is becoming.

I even used the word I wish I heard.



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