“I regret never hugging or consoling Dad when he cried.”
My older Brother confessed this to me before he died. Upon hearing the admission, I cringed knowing I was guilty of the same thing. It’s not as if my Dad cried often—he didn’t—but the times when we witnessed it, we did nothing.
I had never given it much thought before my Brother mentioned it. My Dad was a tall, handsome, debonair, man’s man. He proudly headed his household with a caring yet stern hand. He never suffered fools and growing up he often said, “Children should be seen and not heard.” As a farm boy from the small town of Pofadder, he grew up tough.
When I was seven or eight years old, I was in the garage watching my Dad hammering out a dent from a chrome car bumper. On one strike of the hammer, a chunk out of the hammer’s head broke off and shot like a bullet, lodging deep into my Dad’s forearm. I remember my Dad calmly opening his pocketknife and without flinching, digging out the piece of metal from the oozing wound.
In his late 70’s, my Dad appeared in a local newspaper as the defiant hero during a robbery of a cellular store. He was waiting in line to be served when armed criminals stormed in and shouted for everyone to lie on the floor. All the employees and clients obeyed and fell face down on the floor—except my Dad. They saw him still standing and screamed, “Get on the ground!” He stood proud and said,
“I don’t lie down for the likes of you.”
The one thug ran over and hit my Dad through the face with the side of his pistol. My Dad buckled but stood back up. He hit my Dad again, this time with the butt of the gun on the forehead. Again, my Dad stood his ground and refused to go down. The frustrated thieves fled empty-handed and were later caught by the police.
As tough and manly as he might have appeared to most folks, there was a depth and meekness only seen by those closest to him. My Dad nearly always cried when he prayed. And he liked to pray. He said a prayer before bedtime and before we enjoyed a meal. He prayed at family gatherings, before leaving on a journey, and upon arriving safely from a journey.
My Dad prayed with deep humility and respect for God.
His prayers were from the heart and you could sense a close relationship with his Maker. His prayers were not those of someone trying to be pious but rather as that of a child. His voice would tremble as he spoke—carefully choosing his words. As the conversation with God continued, you could hear my Dad trying to hold back his tears. By the time he said, “Amen,” he was in tears. He would take out his hankie, wipe his eyes and blow his nose, give out a cough, and his composure was back.
This is where my Brother and I felt we should have done better. The simple act of putting our arm around him would let him know how much we love him for being such a compassionate and loving father. He would know that we don’t think any less of him for being meek. We see a man, physically and spiritually strong, with family and God as his North Star.
Our Dad was a man of God.
Shortly before my Dad died some friends visited him in the hospital. They asked how he was doing. Lying on his back and connected to life support, he gave a double thumbs-up, looked skywards and gestured, “I’m going home.”
Don’t spare your hugs, you might regret it later.
Have an awesome weekend and please be generous! 😄
As always, thanks for reading 🙏