COMMENTARY 987.3: Appreciating a Parent’s Love

While window-shopping in New York City, I saw an old gold watch that reminded me of one my father gave me when I graduated from college. It had been engraved with the simple inscription “Love, Dad.” But it was stolen during a burglary years ago, and I hadn’t thought much of it or the inscription since.

I always knew my dad loved me. I took it for granted. He was supposed to. I was his son. I’m always a bit shocked when I run into people who have had a different experience. The truth is, not all dads love their kids, and those who do don’t always express it. I had no idea how lucky I was.

Until I became a father myself, I had no way of understanding the depth and intensity of his feelings and the emotional investment he had in my happiness. I couldn’t imagine how much it must have hurt him when I was cut from my baseball team or dumped by my first girlfriend or how proud he’d be today seeing me become the kind of father he taught me to be.

I always assumed I loved my dad and he knew it, but the truth is, my love was shallow and unexplored. I never came close to feeling or expressing gratitude for all the ways he made my childhood safe, comfortable, and fun. I wish I had given him that gift.

Of course, my dad wasn’t perfect. He had flaws like everyone else. It’s so easy to overweigh our parents’ shortcomings, underweigh their virtues, and undervalue their love.

What’s not easy is experiencing and expressing gratitude while it still matters.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Comments 5

  1. Thank you for putting your emotions into words, and for giving us men (fathers and sons) insight into our own feelings. My father died in 2000, and thankfully in his last few years I had several opportunities to express my own gratitude and appreciation – but there were 25 plus years between my teens and the end of his life that I took my father completely for granted, because, as you said, it was so easy to “overweigh our parents’ shortcomings, underweigh their virtues, and undervalue their love.” I have 3 adult sons who now have families of their own in far-away states, but for whatever reasons, I have been (involuntarily) estranged from them, completely ostracized. I was an involved parent, helping with homework, never missing a back to school night or a program at school or a sporting event they were playing in, yet today I am treated as if I never existed, as if all the love and devotion and sacrifices I gladly made for them never happened. I was certainly not perfect, but Lord knows I tried to be the best father I possibly could! I hope someday, for their own peace of mind, they have the same opportunity to reconcile with me, their father, the way I did with my own father.

    1. Ran, that sounds very Sad, and I know its easy to say, but maybe make another attempt to meet up with them, or even one at a time. I can associate with Michaels words , but in my case just felt 100% certain for as long as I remember that my mam and dad loved me totally. In my adult years , I was also certain that they were very proud of me…26 years left this part of world, but their spirit lives on in me. best of luck with re-connecting with your family.

  2. so much from just two words, only seven letters – thank you very much for such a moving, meaningful & inspirational message

  3. Hi Michael:

    Very nice. Thank you.

    My Dad was the prototypical World War II veteran generation man who didn

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