Last night my neighbor and his son were standing outside their home in the dark. The light was dim, the body language was jerky, almost awkward, and the voices were deep. Not that I could hear anything from where I was observing across the street, or wanted to, but as I sat there smoking my cigarette I couldn’t help to think about my own relationship with my father.
There was something familiar in the way the boy humbly towered over his father. The way the father cautiously measured his every move. And finally how so much seemed to be understood by the simple arm embracing that took place before the son drove off. After he was gone, my white-haired neighbor stood there, alone, staring at the road for a few minutes. No words were spoken. No emotions were visible. He simply stood there, and then in one instant was out of sight.
My father and I have never been expressive about our emotions. We know that we love each other and that is enough. The closest we’ve ever come to actually exchanging an I love you was when we shared a couple of beers and made small chatter about simple nothings. There is just an unspoken understanding between fathers and sons, I think. Where with my mother I can hug her, kiss her forehead and verbally enunciate how strong my feelings are for her. With my father it is not necessary.
His lessons to me have been to persevere no matter what, to take responsibility as a man, and to provide as best I can for my family.
I wonder what the transformation from boy to man must be from the other side. To see your son grow from something so small you can carry with one hand to a towering facial-haired adult. To hear his voice deepen farther and farther away from the innocent sweetness it once was. To know that his strength is now more powerful than yours, and that all the time you thought you had is now gone.
It’s definitely not something any of us are ever fully prepared for