I’ve long since retired, my son’s moved away. I called him up just the other day. I said, “I’d like to see you if you don’t mind.” He said, “I’d love to, Dad, if I can find the time. You see my new job’s a hassle and kids have the flu. But it’s sure nice talking to you, Dad. It’s been sure nice talking to you.” And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me. He’d grown up just like me. My boy was just like me. And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon. Little boy blue and the man on the moon. When you comin’ home son? I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then son. You know we’ll have a good time then. – by Harry Chapin.
A good friend of mine recently lost his father. When I found out about it, of course I told him, “I’m sorry for your loss.” He looked at me and replied, “That’s just what I had to tell everyone at his funeral. And it wasn’t well attended. It was surreal. I ended up saying, I’m sorry for your loss to others – about my own father.” He had such strength. He showed no signs of grief. The loss of a father can be devastating. But for him, it wasn’t.
He told me his father walked out of his and his siblings lives many years ago after his father was remarried to someone who didn’t care much for his children from a previous marriage. He and his siblings were “uninvited” to the funeral services. They went anyway, because he said it was the “right thing to do.” He told me he lost his father years ago. The funeral was just a formality, and he felt nothing. He said his father died a wealthy man and died with nothing of value.
He went on to tell me the only thing he was truly sorry about was that he was robbed of the ability to mourn his father. That was a huge loss for him – and most likely his father.
Here’s what I now know. If you have children, you can’t buy or sell them. You can’t give them back just because you find something better to do, or feel like you don’t have time. FIND THE TIME. Life is short and you will find that in the end, your children will be the ONLY thing that fills your heart with joy. No excuses! What I saw was tragic – and avoidable.
Maybe this blog is a downer. Next time I’ll make you smile. But please, don’t rob your children of being able to mourn a parent. It’s just plain wrong, and selfish. You’ll find that in learning to love them, you will learn to love yourself. Because that is important. When you’re called home, you will have the riches of a king. Because chances are, your children will be surrounding you for the best, and really only send-off you will never forget. In this life or the next.
My friend learned by example of what not to do. His parting words were, “Rest easy, Pops. I hope you found what you were looking for. I got this.”
If you love them, let them know. If you love them let it show. If you love them bring no woe. If you love them let them go.