My dad died at the age of 52 when I was just starting my senior year of high school. It was sudden and unexpected; a massive heart attack while playing golf.
My dad was not one for showing emotions, unless one of us boys had done something stupid. Not an uncommon occurrence with four boys under one roof, but it was more my older brothers than me – really!
About four months after my dad died my brother Dave had me out driving to teach me about rear-wheel drive cars and snow. Front-wheel drive today is much safer but not nearly as exciting or fun.
As we drove we got to talking about Dad. My brother told me something that I wasn’t expecting to hear. He told me that our dad loved us, was proud of us boys and talked about us all the time at work.
I was genuinely shocked!
I truly didn’t know that my dad felt that way. He provided for us and played catch once in a while; but I don’t remember him ever telling me that he was proud of me or loved me.
Long before I became a dad I determined that I wanted my kids to know that I love them. When our kids were little Susan and I would play a little game with them.
“Hey, you know what?”
“I love you. You know why?”
They are older now, ranging in age from 21 to 12. But they still get a hug or kiss and an “I love you” several times a day. It’s less frequent with Eli and Sam since they’re out of the nest but there is no hesitation when we do get the chance to be together.
Expressing our feelings as a family is comfortable and familiar. So I was surprised at the wave of emotions that overwhelmed me last week when I hugged Sam goodbye for the last time before heading back to Indiana.
That same wave hit again two nights ago after talking with Sam by phone for the last time before he deployed with the Marines for six months.
It is one thing to hug your kid as they head out the door for college or their own home; it’s a completely different matter to say goodbye when they are deploying with a military unit.
The odds of staying safe are in Sam’s favor, but the reality of the possibility that he may be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice is still very real… and sobering.
Don’t take a single day of life with your loved ones for granted! Cherish every moment and leave nothing unsaid or undone.
And if you feel inclined to offer a prayer for our Sam and all those who serve in the military, I would be most grateful. But don’t just pray for their safety. Pray first and foremost for their relationship with God – to know Him or grow closer to Him.
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.