vendredi, février 09, 2007

Words at dusk

When saying goodbye to my dad on the phone a couple of days ago, I blurted out "I love you." Signing off with those three words probably wouldn't seem unique in a lot of other families. It was something my mom and I used to say to each other all the time-I recently came across a letter I sent her, one she had saved, in which I wrote "I love you so very much." My mother was easy to love-generous, kind, brave. My father, an exceptionally smart guy, has many rocky places on which the unwary can find themselves trapped. Sometimes his sharp words meant to wound-sometimes they did not, but did anyhow. But we always knew that he loved us. Now he is dying, whether slow or fast we are not sure. Afflicted with new diseases we didn't know he even had until a month ago, he still loves us-even when he can't say it. And now it is time, past time-to tell him I love him too.

As I turn out the lights on my children's busy days, and close the door to let them gather strength for the morrow, I tell them I love them. We are so close, sometimes I worry that they will have problems being independent. But my generation of parents, and younger generations, appear to be willing to treat their children with affection that might have been seen as unhealthy a half a century ago.

A few days ago Colin asked me to put toothpaste on his toothbrush. Brushing his wavy brown hair with my hand, I teasingly asked him if he would ask his wife to do that when he got married. "I'll be more civilized then" he said in a whisper. Perhaps if I were less indulgent, he'd be "civilized" by now...but in this household, where adults apologize to children and expect it in return, where tears so often give way to laughter and hugs all 'round, it's OK to have two little barbarians-and sometimes, a big one.

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