Fathers and Sons
By Mark Brandenburg
As a personal coach for men and the publisher of a newsletter,
I'm sometimes blessed with personal stories from readers that touch my heart.
This story sent in from a father helped me to remember why I'm doing what I do.
I'd like to share it with you:
"As a father of two teens, I've enjoyed your insight on
fatherhood. I was raised in a loving family environment, but just as you
indicated, my father was the primary breadwinner and the "backbone" of the
family, not an emotional type. As a child, I never saw him cry or appear weak,
nor did he ever utter the words "I love you". It was just not in his vocabulary,
though I never doubted his love for any of us.
It was not until his last hours on this earth, nearly 9 years
ago, that I saw him cry for the first time. Suffering from the side effects of
leukemia, I was visiting him in his hospital room.
As I sat on the side of his bed feeding him ice chips and jello
cubes by spoon, it occurred to me that we had reversed roles. He was no longer
caring for my needs, but I was there to help him with a basic need.
We talked about things that we'd never discussed previously and
as I was preparing to return home to my family for the night, I turned to him
and said "I love you". He smiled and nodded his approval as I exited his room
for the last time.
Unfortunately, he'd been experiencing internal bleeding, though
he never complained or mentioned it to me, and he expired some three hours after
I feel fortunate to have spent those last hours with him and
that I could express my love to him, though I felt out of character in doing it.
I only wish that it had occurred years earlier.
As a father myself, I've broken the male mold. I freely express
my love not only for my wife but for each of my children. Rarely does a day pass
that I don't talk with my kids, always ending the conversation with an "I love
I'll be the first to admit that life is not always a bed of
roses, and that developing strong family ties requires patience and
perseverance. But I'm incredibly proud of the family relationships that we've
developed and nurtured in our children."
Millions of today's fathers grew up with fathers who were unable
to express their love directly. And yet so many of these fathers have been able
to express their love to their own children.
They've done it because they know the pain of not receiving that
love. They know how absolutely vital their expression of love and acceptance is
for their kids. And they've moved past the discomfort of expressing their love
for their kids so that they may thrive.
This is an acknowledgement to the courage of all the fathers who
have "broken the mold."