Today is my father’s birthday. He is 96.
I love my father. I always have loved him. Sometimes a boy will go through stages where he does not trust his father, or turns against him so that a bitterness and anger rises in the boy’s heart. That was never true for me. There were times when I struggled against my father’s authority and the “house rules,” but I never doubted that it was his way of caring for me (even if I thought he was crazy for “caring” so).
Not long ago I was watching television, and a boy referred to his father as “my old man.” I suddenly remembered the one time I used that phrase.
I was a young teenager, and all my friends were calling their mothers “my old lady” and their fathers “my old man.” It was cool. It showed an emotional detachment, a toughness that I wanted to take on.
I said something disparaging about my parents and blamed it on “my old man.” As soon as the words came from my mouth I felt like a traitor. I didn’t mean it. It wasn’t true, but I had sold out my Dad in order to look cool and tough.
I remember feeling deep remorse, the kind I had not felt before. I never said those words again.
Happy Birthday, Dad. (I know you’re chuckling at this story!) You are the most important man in my life.
I love you.