Those three words are still echoing in my mind and heart. They only brushed past my ear for a few milliseconds today, but the vibration of them continues, an acoustic double-espresso of emotional energy.
“Love you, Dad!” Tossed over his shoulder as one of my adult sons headed out.
A simple phrase, really. Easy to tune out or even brush off. Until your kids grow up, that is.
Thinking back, the “I love you’s” flow easily when the kids are young. Then they get older, and it’s not so cool to say it. What was once taken for granted dries up, replaced by the silent hope that it’s still true. The unspoken is now taken for granted.
You get used to silence after a while – uncomfortably reconciling yourself to a season of affections assumed, though your ears miss the words even as your eyes interpret the almost imperceptible gestures. You were there, once, some years back – you know how young men keep it in check. Especially when their budding independence comes up against your not-quite-so-confident-anymore leadership.
Then, as they leave the cocoon into the responsibilities and privileges of adulthood, their parents seem to undergo a metamorphosis as well. No longer a mere “bad cop” figurehead at the helm of a prison ship, or some retro dunce from another planet, those parents transform into human beings again.
Mom and Dad again.
And every “Love you, Dad!” rings that much louder. Makes the moment that much brighter. Means more than the young man can possibly know.
Fame, titles, riches – they all have their place. A pretty distant second place, overall. Every “Love you, Dad!” is pure gold.