My Need to Know My Parents’ Love
Here is a small story that I need to share with you about love. When I was in my mid thirties I was dealing with the issue of whether my parents loved me or not. I think we all think about this at times and sometimes I think we all need to hear it from our parents. My parents grew up in the tough times of the depression. At a very early age my father spent a few years in an orphanage because his mother died and his father could not take care of him at the time. So I think love and showing love was foreign to him. My mother was also a tough woman. I believe showing love was not as open in those days as it is now.
Well at that point in my life I needed to know that my parents loved me so I decide to ask them to say it out loud to me. I figured I had one shot at this because I knew that when those words came out of their mouths it may be the only time I was going to hear them. I had to make peace that once would be enough for the rest of my life.
So I went to my parents’ house and found my father in his greenhouse.
I said, “Dad, I need to ask you something.”
He said, “What?”
I said, “Can you tell me that you love me?”
He looked at me and said, “Of course I do, I worked my butt off for you kids”. He said, “Were you ever cold in the winter? Did you have shoes on your feet? Clothes on your back? Well?”
I said “That’s not what I am asking! I am asking you, can you say those three words to me? I LOVE YOU.”
He looked me in the eyes and said quietly, “I love you.”
I looked at him and said, “thank you, I love you too,” and added “all I wanted to hear is that you loved me in words, I know you showed it with the sacrifices that you and mom made everyday for us kids.”
He looked at me and as I turned around and headed for the house to find my mother he shook his head. I wonder if my father was saying to himself, “damn kids, they don’t know when they have it good.”
I knew my mother would be different and she would do what I asked, but then she would start probing me about why I was asking. I was not going to go there with her, my plan was to hear those three magic words and make my exit.
My mother lived up to what I thought she would do. Yes, she said that she loved me and that she was proud of all of her kids and sure enough asked her questions. Like a fine martial artist I deflected her questions because I just wanted to hear the words and could not really explain why. I left that day about 10 minutes after I talked to my mother. I left with both of their three words, I LOVE YOU.
I left with a vocal treasure that they did not give out all that much. And also could see their way of showing love was their commitment to our family. I saw how the food, shoes, clothes, and heat for the house, and everything that surrounded us when we were kids, were the ways they showed their love. I guess when you’re young and you don’t understand the sacrifice that parents go through to keep you warm and safe, you think it is just their job to take care of you. Well now I understand that yes, maybe they did not say they loved us out loud a lot, but I came to understand and believe their actions did. I never asked again to hear those three words, but every so often the words “I love you” did come from them, pointed at me. And even though I realized they did love me the first time they said it to me, it was still nice to hear.
As I look back now I know they loved me and I wonder, maybe I should have said it more to them.