My father is profoundly good and most of us cannot just go do as he has done. I cannot. We can, however, imitate him in some simple ways.
Here is a simple thing Dad did that was good for my brother and for me: he was affectionate. Dad tells us he loves us frequently and he still hugs us. Dad is not afraid to kiss us on the check (our family tradition) when he is leaving. Growing up I had no idea how rare this was until I got to summer camp.
Dad was dropping me off at a summer camp where he would also be the featured speaker. Still I would see little of Mom and Dad hanging out (joy!) with the kids. This was good fun and provides many happy memories. However, one year Dad made a “mistake” and said goodbye near some of the boys . . . Kissing me on the cheek and hugging me.
I was “Smooch” for the rest of camp.
Now one might think that this would bother me . . . I am a depressive and (sadly) like to be liked far more than is good for me. This did not bother me as much as one might think. Partly this is because in talking to Dad about it, he pointed out that many of those kids had no Dad that they knew. Dad also said that some men had learned to not be affectionate as it was perceived as “unmanly.” He pointed out that we need affection. I had read enough books by then, old books, to know that was true. Civil War heroes (Union forever!), Homer’s heroes, Paul in the Bible all were affectionate with family and friends.
My Dad gave me a hug and a “smooch.” This was good. He was also not an angry man, the worst kind of example. He was stern, holding God’s standards, and he punished me, but never in anger. Dad turned all this godly, effective rage against real evils and his love to people. Dad hugs us readily and is angry at our sins with difficulty.
That is a good balance.
So here are some good and simple things learned from Dad that summer:
- Dad loved us. This meant not all love was romantic love.
- Dad hugged and “smooched” us. There is affection between a father and his son that is good.
Here is a thought: It is good for sons to show affection to their fathers. This is honorable and manly. If you can, go and do likewise. If you cannot, then God who is the good Father of us all stands ready to enfold you in his arms. All is well.
I love you, Dad.