He Said “I Love You”

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(Author Note:  This is a bit away from dance but it has been rolling around in my head for several days now.  I’m going to do this a little differently – not a straight narrative and no attempts at humor)

It was my parent’s anniversary and I forgot.  I never do that.  I always send them something.  Not because I feel like I have to but because I want to.

Pop called and hinted about the anniversary and my heart just dropped when I realized I forgot.  Not guilt.  They would never put that on me. Just a sense that forgetting hurt them even though they said they understood.  Mom said she hated that Pop did this but I’m glad he did.  I would have remembered on my own in due time and felt even worse.  The magic of the internet allowed me to get them something.  We talked, and, at the end of the call my Dad said “I love you”.

I was stunned.  I honestly can’t recall him saying that at the end of a phone call or in person.

Do I doubt that he loved me?  Maybe at some level, I did. We don’t see eye to eye on many issues and we have different outlooks on life.  I see myself as a good person though I don’t believe some of the things he does and maybe I’ve always been concerned that those differences were too much.

He sees the world in such a black and white way and his way is the only way.  He holds grudges and has gone through periods where he didn’t talk to his brother or sister.  He was never much for talking to us at the table.  The conversation was between him and Mom.  My older brother would join in but the other three of us, as introverts, struggled to get a word in.

Was he too critical?  No, there just wasn’t anything.  No positive, no negative.  I’m sure my memory is clouded and there were times but I was always the smart, quiet one who didn’t get into any trouble and as long as that remained the status quo, then there was little to say.

As he nears the end, I can see that he is trying to change that.  Maybe he regrets not saying it earlier.  Maybe he does wish he had done things differently.  While I have no real complaints, I do wish I had felt more emotional support growing up.  Would it have made a difference?  Who knows?  I wonder what I will be like at his age and what I will regret?

I will miss them when they are gone.  But it is strange because I’ve not had to rely on them for much in the way of support.  Mom taught us to be tough and work through things and I’ve taken that to heart more so then some of my siblings.  I don’t rely on them for advice or counsel.  I’ve convinced myself that I didn’t need it but perhaps I always did.  I guess my feelings of loss are more regret at what could have been.  Not that my childhood was truly unhappy.  I was able to live inside my mind and find ways to be happy.  Still, I will miss them and thinking about the end makes me truly sad.  Typing this has become difficult as it is hard to see.

Perhaps it is reading too much into one little line but it came from nowhere and hit me with a ton of emotional force.

He said “I love you”

I wish I had heard that more often.

I’m sorry I had doubts.

I’m sorry I couldn’t say it back.

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