Sunday, 17 June 2012

My Dad and "I Love You"

    "I Love You."  It is such a powerful word.  It is used at our house so casually that it has almost become a greeting.  "Have a great day at school / work, I love you."  "Good night, I love you".  Every time I say it it has great meaning, and yet as I lay in bed last night unable to sleep, thinking about today's blog, I wonder if is accepted with the meaning in which I say it.
    Today is Father's Day, and it got me thinking about the two father's in my life, my husband, and my Dad.  As I lay there, I got thinking about the enigma wrapped in a riddle which is my father.  My Dad did not throw around the word "I love you" lightly.  If I truly think about it, I might be able to count on my fingers and toes the amount of time he said it to me (it might be more than that, but that's what I remember).  I never doubted my father's love, it just was not a phrase that he threw around lightly.
    My Dad comes from a long line of undemonstrative people.  On Dad's line we come from hard working pioneers.  My family helped to tame this wild country.  They came here when it was wilderness, and were strong enough to survive.  My family were Empire Loyalists on my Great- Grandmother's side.  They were so true to The British Empire that they left their homes in the United States, they stood up for what they believed in, even if it might cost them their lives, I'm proud of that!  My Great-Grandfather, Gampie was a blacksmith, and as was his father before him, and his father's father.  They were strong people, people who carved out this country before it was even a country.  Canada was built on their backs.  It was not built on their mushy side.  My Gampie (my Great-Grandfather) was this tall man (6 feet was a giant for men of his time) with the fluffy white beard.  We loved Gampie.  He kissed us and cuddled us and always had humbugs for us.  When we left Gampie feeling all warm and fuzzy, Dad would shake his head wondering who that old man was.  That was not the "Grandpa" that Dad remembered.  My Grandma (Dad's Mom) is this tiny little lady (hard to believe looking at her that it was her father that was 6 feet tall),  I think that Riley and Rowan might be taller than she is.  She is this tiny little tough lady.  When you leave and give Grandma a hug, she hugs you like you might hug a stranger, it makes her uncomfortable I think.  Do you see the pattern?  It's no wonder that Dad is undemonstrative, how could he be?
    My Dad did not say "I love you" a lot, but I never doubted his love.  My Dad worked hard all of his life to provide for us.  He picked up every extra shift that he could.  That was him saying "I love you".  As a little girl one of my favourite things was when Dad would come to my bed and read me a book.  Every character had a crazy voice, he read it with such feeling.  I read to my children the way Dad read to us.  When Dad read to us it shouted "I love you".  Sometimes much to my mother's chagrin, Dad would tickle me before bed, until I literally peed on his lap, that was "I love you." When we were out, and Dad would see someone he knew and introduced me, his face lit up when he told that person my name.  He always added that I was really smart, and then an embarrassed "but she's a monster".  When I went to my Dad's work, and he opened his locker there was not a bit of metal showing.  It was covered in pictures of my sister and I.  When Dad's Co-workers/ friends spoke to me they would ask me questions about things my Dad had told them, things I didn't think that he was listening to.  These people knew every little detail about my life, which meant that my Dad knew every single detail about my life, he just didn't let on.  No, never have I ever doubted my father's love.
    When Dad does say "I love you", it is a BIG thing.  When I went off to university Mom and Dad drove me there in a rented moving van.  My Mom bawled all the way there.  When it was time for them to leave, and me to stay, my mom crumbled, she was leaving her baby to the great unknown.  My Dad pulled me in for this bone crushing hug.  He whispered "I love you".  I looked up and there were tears in his eyes.  The only time I had ever in my whole life seen my father cry was when my Gampie died.  He turned quickly away, so that I could not see his weakness.  My Dad has always been the strongest man that I ever knew.  He still was, his tears shouted "I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!"  When I would call home my Dad would always tell me he loved me.  The way that he said was not in a way to be taken casually.  When he said "I love you", it was with strength.
    When I watch Dad with my kids I wonder who this grey haired man who looks a lot like my father is.  He kisses and hugs and tells them how much he loves them.  I guess it's safe now.  He does not have to be a strong powerful man for them, he can just be goofy Papa.  My kids don't know "my Dad", they just know Popa.  They adore Popa, and Popa unabashedly adores them.
    All of this got me wondering as to whether or not Christopher and I throw "I love you around too much".  Does it loose it's power when it is said dozens of times a day?  Maybe the power isn't really in the words, but in the feeling behind them.  I guess I will just have to wait twenty years or so to see.

Happy Father's Day to the strongest man I know, my Dad... I LOVE YOU!

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