Hug Your Dad
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If you’re angry at a loved one, hug that person. And mean it. You may not want to hug – which is all the more reason to do so. It’s hard to stay angry when someone shows they love you, and that’s precisely what happens when we hug each other. ~Walter Anderson, The Confidence Course, 1997
It’s a game my son and I play. I hold him and throw his arms around my neck, and he struggles to get away. Alright, so, he’s only 7 weeks old and it’s really just a game that he’s an unwitting player in. But I’m his dad and so I’m entitled to all the hugs I want, right?
I started thinking about hugs the other day, and that got me thinking about my dad.
My dad loved hugs from his sons. “Come here and give your dad a hug!” Of course, I never gave up hugs to my dad easily. In fact, I’d often run the other way instead of giving him a hug. It’s not that I was a bad son. We just didn’t have the greatest of relationships when I was growing up so I was reluctant to share that kind of expression of love with him. And so, outside of the obligatory birthday and Christmas hugs, rarely did I give in to my dad’s requests. I often didn’t notice, or chose to ignore, that pain in his eyes when I turned the other way. At the time I just didn’t truly understand the importance of those hugs.
It wasn’t until I myself became a father that I really came to appreciate that bond you feel with your child when you give them a hug. You’re letting them know that you’ll protect them from whatever is out there, and they’re letting you know that they trust you unconditionally. You’re sharing a deep representation of love that few other gestures can express. It leaves you with a feeling of joy to know that someone loves you enough to share that bond with you. And even though my squirming 7 week old might not understand it now, I find it important to hug him each and every day.
It’s amazing how grudges fall away and old anger seems meaningless when you find out someone you love is terminally ill. In those last nine months of my dad’s life, I let go of that anger and resentment I held onto for so long. I forgave him for how he’d made me feel. And most importantly, I hugged him. I hugged him every chance I got. I hugged him after his brain surgery to remove the tumor. I hugged him after his treatments. I hugged him when the cancer came back quickly and spread. And in those last few weeks as the cancer took him, even when he didn’t know it, I hugged him every chance I got. I wanted him to know that I loved him, and that I did feel safe in his arms and I was glad he was my dad.
It’s been over 2 years since my dad passed away, and it still hurts me to think about the way I turned away from his hugs. I can’t imagine how it must have pained him to see his son whom he loved so much not want to return that love. I know he knew I loved him, but I still struggle with the fact that I just didn’t express that love enough.
So do me a favor. After you’re done reading this, let go of any anger or resentment you might have towards your Dad. Give him a call, say hi, tell him you love him. And the very next time you see him, give him a hug. Because whether they say it or not…dads love hugs.
7 thoughts on “Hug Your Dad”
Great post and excellent message! Wow a 7 week old son. Those are tough yet fabulous days that slip away all too fast. Enjoy!
Thanks for checking out the blog! Hopefully they won’t slip away too fast!
I actually just had dinner with my parents tonight. I make an effort to drive their once a week to eat with them because I don’t know how much longer they will be around and want to make the most of it.
Glad to hear you make time for your parents. Family one of the most important things in life, so it’s crucial that we make time for those we love. Thanks for checking out the blog!
Amazing post, you brought tears to my eyes. I’m so sorry to hear of your loss.
Oddly enough I have said the same thing on my blog about my own dad! A hug is a powerful thing, and you are so right: take every chance you get to hug your family. It means so much.
Great post! Just read it out loud to my husband. We both have challenging relationships with our parents. You’re exactly right though – and life is too short to hang on to that stuff. Thanks for sharing.
I didn’t know at the time that the last day I spent with my dad would be the last day I would ever see him. I took him to his doctor’ appointment and we laughed when he said, “I’ll pay you back” as I paid his $10 co-pay because he left his wallet at home. We ran a few errands then I dropped him back home. I missed a call from him later that night. He was excited to tell me something and ended the call like he always did, “Love you, ok, bye!” I’ll keep that message and the sound of his voice always.
At 2:00 am I got a call from my brother that Dad was being taken to the ER. He had collapsed. My sister and I were with him when he took his last breath. He was 90. He was the best Dad and friend any girl could want. Almost two years have gone by and I miss him every day. I still catch myself thinking, “I need to ask Dad about that” or “Dad would love this or that.”
Yes, hug, talk to, laugh and cry with your Dad. I was so lucky and so blessed.
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