Today my son ran ahead of me in a car park. It was a fairly normal event, I looked at him lost in his own wee 7 year old world, possibly thinking about Pokemon, Lego and Power Rangers (he can talk about all three for a very long time). He looked happy. As I watched at him, I thought about how much I loved him in that moment. I felt privileged and humbled to have him in my life, and to have been able to have that emotion.
I love him for who he is right now, mostly he is sheltered from the opinions of others. He likes what he likes, and doesn't look for the approval of others, and does what he wants (with of course guidance from his mum and dad).
It made me think of my own dad, and wonder how many times we had the same normal family circumstance, me running ahead of him, or talking to him non-stop about something that meant the world to me and nothing to him. Did my dad stop to think about how much he loved me, did he count his blessings?
My dad died three years ago, and for the last year of his life I was unable to have decent heartfelt conversations with him. I was robbed then and of course still robbed now of the ability to speak with him. To ask him the questions, did he love me? And what did he think of me? He was your typical stoical guy, from that generation, the quiet man. To get such a statement of love from him would have required supreme safe cracking skills, and the patience of a saint.
I don't know about your dad, but mine was the kind of guy that you could ask him for help and he would be there. I never heard him tell his mum that he loved her, but I saw how week in week out he would do what he could for her. When her time came to die, he was there, by her side. When it came to my dad's time to die, he didn't want us there. He wanted to do it alone, as if that would spare us from some of the pain. Was this him still thinking of others, and trying to help?
Whilst I never had his words to use as a compass to guide me on my adventure of being a dad, I had his actions, and his mannerisms. The love was there, but given in different ways, and implied by his actions. When he died I was angry at him, for a lot of things. One of which was around why he couldn't have told me (and the rest of my family) that he loved us more than he did.
As time has passed, I've come to the realisation that perhaps it was down to him being a product of his generation, and indeed his family background (that's a whole other story). I've mellowed and given him a break. It was never going to be easy for him to tell me he loved me. I'll never know what my dad was thinking as I ran ahead of him in the car park, but I know he loved me. In turn I know how I feel about my boy.
It's taken as a fact that we pass genes on from one generation to the next. I believe the same is true of love, we pass it on, hand it on down the line. In the hope that those who come next can cope with more. I'm working on giving my son as much as I can.