Those Three Words

107023 5283 Those Three Words

Picture by Matthew Bowden

Men in their twenties don’t say I love you to male friends or at least we didn’t when I was in my twenties. It was a mistake but I didn’t know it then. I didn’t know it because when you are in your twenties you are invincible and you don’t worry about dying.

You don’t ever expect that one day you will stand under endless blue skies holding a shovel because you have to bury a friend who was more like a brother. It is not supposed to be like that and you never could have imagined that 14 years later you would remember it all so vividly.

It never occurs to you that you’ll wonder what happens after we die and ask yourself if he is watching over the six year-old boy who is buried near by. I didn’t know about that little boy until after ‘D’s funeral. I was lost that day and I didn’t pay attention to any of the graves, but I saw him later.

One day after my oldest was born I decided to go visit ‘D’ and tell him that I had become a father. I walked by the little guy’s grave and had to sit down. It was always tragic to me but I hadn’t ever thought about it as a father. This time it was different. This time I remembered the looks of horror on the faces of ‘D’s parent and the magnitude of it all hit me in a different way because I understood the responsibility parents feel regarding their children’s welfare.

Those Three Words

I don’t have many regrets but I wish that I had told ‘D’ that I loved him. I wish that he hadn’t hid the severity of his illness and that he would have let me help carry some of the load. I would have done it. He would have done it for me.

All these years later I don’t doubt that he knew it but there is something different about saying the words. I have thought about it quite a bit and I haven’t ever figured out why I didn’t say it other than I don’t share my feelings easily.

That might sound shocking to you, but if you are an old friend you’ll know that I am close lipped about many things.

My Uncle Jimmy died in ’94. Technically he died from pneumonia but it was AIDS that got him. I didn’t find out he was gay until I was a senior in high school. Funny thing is that it never was a secret, I was just oblivious. It didn’t change my feelings about him. He was my uncle and I loved him, but I didn’t say it to him either.

Hell, my father almost died eight years ago and we didn’t exchange those three words. We did when I was little but somewhere along the way it stopped and I am not sure why.

But if I have learned anything from these experiences it is that you shouldn’t wait to tell the people you love that you care about them. I have gotten better about it but I need to do more.

Eight years later I am carrying around some guilt because I don’t think dad is taking care of himself the way he should because he is worried about my sisters and I. I wasn’t going to say anything to him about it because I didn’t think he would change.

But I can’t do this any longer. I can’t not say anything. I am in a transitional phase but I am not worried about coming through it. I always get through and I will this time. I am concerned about my kids, but that is because it is what parents do. They will get through this time too and they will probably do better than all of us.

This time I am going to say something. I am going to pull out those three words. I should have told ‘D’ and I should have said it to Uncle Jimmy but I won’t miss the opportunity to say I love you to my father.

This post is part of Just Write #39 and Yeah Write #61.

108 comments
mannahattamamma
mannahattamamma

I once said to my dad "tell me you love me," and he said "it goes without saying." And without even skipping a beat, I said "no, it doesn't." I'm not sure where our Western culture learned that men should only be affectionate with one another on a playing field or after a few beers, but it's a silly, silly idea. Who among us doesn't want to be told that we are loved, when you get right down to it? Anyone?

mannahattamamma
mannahattamamma

I once said to my dad "tell me you love me," and he said "it goes without saying." And without even skipping a beat, I said "no, it doesn't." I'm not sure where our Western culture learned that men should only be affectionate with one another on a playing field or after a few beers, but it's a silly, silly idea. Who among us doesn't want to be told that we are loved, when you get right down to it? Anyone?

DudeOfTheHouse
DudeOfTheHouse

That's very touching, Jack. Sometimes that realization just hits you. Good luck. It's not easy.

DudeOfTheHouse
DudeOfTheHouse

That's very touching, Jack. Sometimes that realization just hits you. Good luck. It's not easy.

TheJackB
TheJackB

@GalitBreen Thank you for the RT. How are things? Are your children on summer break yet?

TheJackB
TheJackB

@GalitBreen Thank you for the RT. How are things? Are your children on summer break yet?

Dainty_Mom
Dainty_Mom

@GalitBreen Thanks for this! @thejackb

Dainty_Mom
Dainty_Mom

@GalitBreen Thanks for this! @thejackb

michellelongo
michellelongo

Maybe it's that I'm female, but I tell people I love them all the time.  I don't know why or when it started, because I used to not say it.  For some reason I can't not say it to people I care about.  It's good that you want to say it more.  And men should tell those they love that they love them, even their guy friends.  Thoughtful post.

michellelongo
michellelongo

Maybe it's that I'm female, but I tell people I love them all the time.  I don't know why or when it started, because I used to not say it.  For some reason I can't not say it to people I care about.  It's good that you want to say it more.  And men should tell those they love that they love them, even their guy friends.  Thoughtful post.

SensibleMoms
SensibleMoms

This post has a flow and a coherence that drives your point home. Death rarely is how it is supposed to be, but we have little control over it. We can give those 3 little words freely, though. I am so sorry for your losses.  Ellen

SensibleMoms
SensibleMoms

This post has a flow and a coherence that drives your point home. Death rarely is how it is supposed to be, but we have little control over it. We can give those 3 little words freely, though. I am so sorry for your losses.  Ellen

erin margolin
erin margolin

I love this post. I love that you wrote it. I love that you talked about AIDS and death and being gay and children dying and how we need to say things instead of not saying things.

 

thank you for this.

erin margolin
erin margolin

I love this post. I love that you wrote it. I love that you talked about AIDS and death and being gay and children dying and how we need to say things instead of not saying things.   thank you for this.

TheDoseofReality
TheDoseofReality

I do think it often takes death to remind you of the living and how important it is to tell them while they are here. When you can actually say it, not just to the heavens. Very well written.

TheDoseofReality
TheDoseofReality

I do think it often takes death to remind you of the living and how important it is to tell them while they are here. When you can actually say it, not just to the heavens. Very well written.

rdopping
rdopping

So true @TheJackB  My wife and I are very good at exchanging our feelings but I have trouble doing that with my parents and brother. Skeletons, ya know? Don't know why but my wife is always telling me that I better get on the bandwagon because life is never as long as you want it to be. There's always time is BS .

 

Thanks for the reminder.

rdopping
rdopping

So true @TheJackB  My wife and I are very good at exchanging our feelings but I have trouble doing that with my parents and brother. Skeletons, ya know? Don't know why but my wife is always telling me that I better get on the bandwagon because life is never as long as you want it to be. There's always time is BS .   Thanks for the reminder.

TimMancuso
TimMancuso

Great post -thank you for sharing this. A sobering reminder that we only have 'now' to appreciate and show gratitude to others. Check out the 30 days of gratitude challenge. Send 1 heartfelt card, per day, for a month - words of gratitude to someone...anyone... while they are still here to receive them. You'll be amazingly Blessed + it's the right thing to do. Info on facebook at (fb.com) / RelationshipMarketing @timmancuso 

TimMancuso
TimMancuso

Great post -thank you for sharing this. A sobering reminder that we only have 'now' to appreciate and show gratitude to others. Check out the 30 days of gratitude challenge. Send 1 heartfelt card, per day, for a month - words of gratitude to someone...anyone... while they are still here to receive them. You'll be amazingly Blessed + it's the right thing to do. Info on facebook at (fb.com) / RelationshipMarketing timmancuso 

heidi
heidi

Thought-provoking and powerful post. My dad didn't say "I love you" until I lay in a hospital bed after a serious car crash. In my family It was shown, so it didn't need to be said. But, I think it needs to be said. It's important to hear and say those words out loud.

But, how could you have known any of this at such a young age? You loved him. You loved each other. Even if it wasn't said.

I'm glad you're taking the opportunity to tell your dad.

heidi
heidi

Thought-provoking and powerful post. My dad didn't say "I love you" until I lay in a hospital bed after a serious car crash. In my family It was shown, so it didn't need to be said. But, I think it needs to be said. It's important to hear and say those words out loud. But, how could you have known any of this at such a young age? You loved him. You loved each other. Even if it wasn't said. I'm glad you're taking the opportunity to tell your dad.

TheMommyMess
TheMommyMess

I am glad you're taking that chance to tell your dad you love him. This is a powerful reminder!

TheMommyMess
TheMommyMess

I am glad you're taking that chance to tell your dad you love him. This is a powerful reminder!

The Outlaw Mama
The Outlaw Mama

Powerful post here. THe grave of a young child is a horror.  And saying I love you is such a good reminder. Thank you for your beautiful words. You are a generous writer.

The Outlaw Mama
The Outlaw Mama

Powerful post here. THe grave of a young child is a horror.  And saying I love you is such a good reminder. Thank you for your beautiful words. You are a generous writer.

KDillabough
KDillabough

Easy to say. It's how we end every phone conversation, every time someone leaves the house for the day, before we go to sleep at night. It's said with meaning, and I have no problem telling friends and family that I love them. Not in a perfunctory, dutiful way. In a meaningful, sincere way. That's just how I roll. Cheers! Kaarina P.S. I hug too:)

TheJackB
TheJackB moderator

 @mannahattamamma This is one of those areas where I think there is "disconnect" between the genders as well as some socialization differences.

 

Women like to feel close to men so that they are ready for sex and men like to have sex so they feel close to women. That is a generalization and probably phrased awkwardly, but...

 

I agree that most people like to hear those words but I have to concede that in more than one relationship I was told that it would be nice if I said "I love you more frequently" and each time I remember wondering why it it wasn't obvious that I clearly did. Just based upon my actions it seemed hard to misinterpret my feelings.

 

But over time I have also realized that it is not always the case and that it would be good if we did say it more frequently.

TheJackB
TheJackB

 @mannahattamamma This is one of those areas where I think there is "disconnect" between the genders as well as some socialization differences.   Women like to feel close to men so that they are ready for sex and men like to have sex so they feel close to women. That is a generalization and probably phrased awkwardly, but...   I agree that most people like to hear those words but I have to concede that in more than one relationship I was told that it would be nice if I said "I love you more frequently" and each time I remember wondering why it it wasn't obvious that I clearly did. Just based upon my actions it seemed hard to misinterpret my feelings.   But over time I have also realized that it is not always the case and that it would be good if we did say it more frequently.

TheJackB
TheJackB

 @DudeOfTheHouse Nope, not easy but not impossible either. I figure the time is right for a change, so might as well do something about it now.

TheJackB
TheJackB

 @michellelongo Hi Michelle,   I think it is great that you do that. It is important. It is not easy for men to do it, but I think we are slowly learning.

TheJackB
TheJackB moderator

 @SensibleMoms Hi Ellen,

 

Thank you. At the risk of repeating myself all I can say is that I am doing my best to learn from these experiences so that I don't make the same mistakes again.

 

If I do that then I can look at these experiences and say something positive came from it. It is hell of a way to learn, but...

Latest blog post: The Value of Fatherly Advice

TheJackB
TheJackB

 @SensibleMoms Hi Ellen,   Thank you. At the risk of repeating myself all I can say is that I am doing my best to learn from these experiences so that I don't make the same mistakes again.   If I do that then I can look at these experiences and say something positive came from it. It is hell of a way to learn, but...

TheJackB
TheJackB moderator

 @erinmargolin 

 

Hi Erin,

 

When I look back at the experiences I mentioned in this post I think of how hurt I was because I didn't share what I felt. It is not as bad as dying or the loss that my grandfather, father and the parents of my friend went through.

 

But that didn't mean that it didn't upset me or that I couldn't learn from it. I suppose I should say that I was a slow learner, but better late than never.

 

If possible I want to avoid being in that position again. Thank you for your comment. Hope you had a good day.

 

Latest blog post: The Value of Fatherly Advice

TheJackB
TheJackB

 erinmargolin    Hi Erin,   When I look back at the experiences I mentioned in this post I think of how hurt I was because I didn't share what I felt. It is not as bad as dying or the loss that my grandfather, father and the parents of my friend went through.   But that didn't mean that it didn't upset me or that I couldn't learn from it. I suppose I should say that I was a slow learner, but better late than never.   If possible I want to avoid being in that position again. Thank you for your comment. Hope you had a good day.  

TheJackB
TheJackB moderator

 @TheDoseofReality There are people who are really important to us and if we don't make the effort to tell them we run the risk of missing out.

 

It is a very hard lesson to learn and one that I hope my children don't have to learn.

Latest blog post: The Value of Fatherly Advice

TheJackB
TheJackB

 @TheDoseofReality There are people who are really important to us and if we don't make the effort to tell them we run the risk of missing out.   It is a very hard lesson to learn and one that I hope my children don't have to learn.

TheJackB
TheJackB moderator

 @rdopping Hi Ralph,

 

Don't know why, but it is clearly harder for men to do this than women. You are wife is definitely correct- time is never as we wish or want it to be.

Latest blog post: The Value of Fatherly Advice

TheJackB
TheJackB

 @rdopping Hi Ralph,   Don't know why, but it is clearly harder for men to do this than women. You are wife is definitely correct- time is never as we wish or want it to be.

TheJackB
TheJackB

 @TimMancuso  I like that 30 days of gratitude challenge. It sounds like a wonderful way to help remind ourselves about what is important and valuable.

TheJackB
TheJackB moderator

Hi Heidi,

 

That must have been really scary for you and your father. I am glad that you are ok. I agree with you that it needs to be said out loud. it makes such a difference.

TheJackB
TheJackB

Hi Heidi,   That must have been really scary for you and your father. I am glad that you are ok. I agree with you that it needs to be said out loud. it makes such a difference.

TheJackB
TheJackB moderator

 @TheMommyMess I know he knows but I want him to hear it too. There is power in words.

TheJackB
TheJackB

 @TheMommyMess I know he knows but I want him to hear it too. There is power in words.

TheJackB
TheJackB moderator

 @The Outlaw Mama The grave of a child is a horror and one I wish to never see/experience again, just awful.

 

Thank you for your kind words. I just try to share what I see and hope it resonates with people.

TheJackB
TheJackB

 @The Outlaw Mama The grave of a child is a horror and one I wish to never see/experience again, just awful.   Thank you for your kind words. I just try to share what I see and hope it resonates with people.

TheJackB
TheJackB moderator

 @KDillabough We are big huggers, that is not an issue. Some might say we are too affectionate. I think it is great that you tell everyone.