My wonderful father Frank Price died when I was 17. I was not there by his bedside when he died in the Townsville hospital. At 61, he was too young but many years of heavy medication for bad nerves had taken its toll.
At the time and for many years afterwards I regretted that I had never said to dad, “I love you!” As a boy I had this image that ONE DAY, when I was in my 30’s or 40’s I would be sitting by his hospital bed and I would take his hand and say, “Thanks Dad! Thanks for all that you did for me. I love you!” That day never came. Perhaps as a small boy I said it but I have no conscious memory of doing so. For years I regretted missing that chance: that chance to say to one who had loved me what was deeply in my heart.
But “boys don’t cry” and “real men don’t show their feelings” and “just get on with it!” There are an impossible to count number of battle fields of male psyches littered with wreckage, broken marriages, substance abuse, torn limbs, all too young funerals and lives less than half lived because too many men have bought into such bullshit.
I was lucky. I was lucky because one day after I had shared with a group of young men my story of never having said to my wonderful father, “I love you” one of the youths present came up to me and calmly said, “Pricey, your father knew that you loved him!” Like millions of other men I flicked the comment off, “Thanks friend!” and made to walk away. He stood his ground, “Pricey, your father knew that you loved him!” “Ah thanks friend, appreciate it!” and turned to turn off the data projector. A calm and determined 17 year old stepped a foot closer and with a maturity beyond his years placed a gentle hand on my shoulder, “Pricey, your father knew that you loved him!” As I held his steady gaze my eyes teared up, and somewhere deep inside me a wound began to heal.
Ultimately life’s journey is to know that we are LOVED, LOVABLE and LOVING. Infants and children are like a sponge. They soak in the energy around them. Every time we gently hold, tickle and make those silly noises and pull those silly faces for the baby we plant “you are loved and lovable” seeds that will blossom when life’s journey, like all journeys, gets tough. Sure in childhood and adolescence we place boundaries around behaviour, we say “no” and mean it and by word and example play the issue or behaviour and not the person – all the while nurturing those “you are loved and lovable” seeds.
Ultimately it does not really matter HOW you plant and nurture those “you are loved and lovable” seeds. All that matters is that you plant and nurture life’s greatest gift.
We have too many young men taking their own lives. We have too many young men addicted to porn, reaching far too often and too heavily for the bottle and too many young men dulling mind, heart and spirit with drugs. Too many objectify women, too many see sex as an entitlement linked to their manhood and not a sacred journey, commitment and giving leading to true freedom. We have too many men living a life of labels, masks and games – too afraid to look inside, too ashamed to admit weakness or failure and too weak to truly know what real strength is. In short, we have too many men who do not really KNOW, know in their deepest self, that they are loved and lovable.
Oh for a generation of real men who will say what their heart says really needs to be said, who put aside macho bullshit to truly love and who gift those who follow them with the authenticity and courage to get up each day and be nothing more and nothing less than their best self – regardless of the bleating of the crowd or the false friendship of shallow fools.
Thanks Dad for being such a man!
Today and every day, by word or by deed, make sure the people in your life know that they are loved and lovable – and keep on chipping away at it until you KNOW that they have heard it.