“The only abnormality is the incapacity to love.”
The very first time I heard the words, I love you came from my mother.
Interesting, the person who spoke those words to me more than any other was my father.
My dad, told me he loved me almost everyday of his life; I always felt strange, because whenever I would step away
from my father he would look wistful and then he’d say, I love you.
Often I wondered, did my father know something about my future that I did not?
Was I going to die soon?
Strangely as I write this, I remember the last time I spoke with my father;
he told me he loved me.
If I counted all the times my mother, my siblings and even my ex-wife told me they loved me and I put them all together combined my father told me many more times then the lot of them that he loved me.
One day I received a phone call informing me my father had just passed away.
I dropped the phone and I was crushed to the core and I fell hard to the floor and was suffering a major heart attack.
I lay on the floor unable to catch my breathe and as I lay close to death I could hear my father’s voice one more time:
I love you.
Since my father’s death the words I love you have taken on a much greater importance and power to me.
I was awoken from my slumber when I was faced with the sight of my father laying still and silent in that casket.
I now understood the delicate existence we all are apart of. We never know when our last moments of life will be.
Now, like m father I look upon those people in my life that I hold most dear and I have this unquenchable desire
to verbalize to all these words: I love you.
My father would say to me before I walked outside to play; I love you.
A strange thing I noticed among my friend’s their fathers did not behave like my father with always saying how he loved them. I never heard any of my friends fathers tell their sons that they loved them; I’m sure they did, but I never heard them say it.
Why did they not tell their sons in front of me they loved them?
I still do not know.
I have never been to jail and it is only because of my father.
My father knew a certain Sheriff who ran the county jail and my father had arranged for me to spend about thirty-minutes locked up. The ruse was my dad had a meeting with the Sheriff and the only place safe for me to wait was in a jail cell. Once my old man left with the Sheriff all these really bad looking guys would walk in front of the cell I was in. One asked me what had I done to get locked up. I told him I did not do anything. He called me a liar.
Another jail mate asked me who I shot. This really troubled me.
“I didn’t shoot NOBODY!” I said
Another time I was called a liar.
Then another jail mate came and asked me what I stole.
I shook my head as if to understand are all these guys crazy?
I’m just a kid.
I wanted my father and the Sheriff to hurry up and come back and get me out of there.
Now I had maybe five or six of the worst looking men a kid like me would ever see.
These men cursed at me spat on the floor in front of me, they shook the bars of the cell I was in and they each told me they would beat the living crap out of me once I was processed to be among the jail population.
I warned them my father was an Native American Indian and he would surely kill all of them if they touched me.
They all smiled at that.
But I knew in my soul my father would go to the end of the earth and kill for me if he had to; I was and I’m sure of that. Not much later my father returned with the Sheriff and I did notice that my father and the Sheriff had big smiles on their faces. My father asked me if I was alright.
I wanted to get the hell out of their and the place smelled like piss.
So my dad and I went to lunch to get hamburgers and fries, my father grew quiet and somber.
Before our food came my father shook his head and he told me he hated that jail.
I saw my father’s eyes fill up with tears, I never saw my father so emotional before.
He pulled out a hanky and blew his nose.
He looked deep into my eyes and he began to speak slow almost in a whisper.
“CHARLIE, THAT PLACE IS JUST A SHIT-HOLE IF THERE EVER WAS ONE.
I’M TELLING YOU SON, YOU NEVER WANT TO END UP THERE.
I HATE THAT PLACE.
THEY FEED YOU WORSE THAN A DOG.
TELL YOU WHEN TO GO TO THE BATHROOM,
WHEN TO EAT, AND WHEN TO GO TO SLEEP AND WHEN TO GET UP.
CHARLIE, IF YOU EVER GO TO JAIL, I’M GONNA BE DONE WITH YOU SON.
I PROMISE YOU, CHARLIE, I WILL TAKE ALL OF YOUR STUFF AND PUT IT ON THE FRONT LAWN.
AND ME AND YOUR MOTHER WILL NOT LET YOU COME BACK INTO OUR HOUSE.
YOUR MOTHER AND I WILL DIS-OWN YOU.I’M TELLING YOU CHARLIE, IF YOU GO TO JAIL DON’T EVEN CALL THE HOUSE,
BECAUSE YOUR MOTHER AND I WILL NOT COME DOWN AND GET YOU OUT OF JAIL.
SON, I CAN HELP YOU BE ANYTHING YOU WANT TO BE IN THIS WORLD, BUT IF YOU GO TO JAIL I CAN’T HELP YOU DO NOTHING!
CHARLIE, DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I JUST SAID SON?”
I nodded yet I was in total shock.
Not long after that amazing lunch with father my best friend in the whole wide world approached me and asked me to go for a ride with him in a car he had just stolen. I told my friend James that idea was totally out of the question.
James pressed on and asked me if I was sacred.
I told him without shame I was; my father would kill me and I did not want my stuff thrown out on the front lawn.
James laughed and pressed harder.
I did not budge.
I reasoned if I get in the car with James there is a chance we could go to jail.
Now, my father told me what would happen to me and how my life would be turned in to shit.
I also reasoned that my father had never told me a lie, I mean he did not even tell the great
Santa Claus lie which my mother told often. Lying was just not in my father DNA.
Finally I had to speak a language James understood:
“Fuck-Off! I said with anger and then he sped off.
Well, as you would have guessed James was stopped by the police and arrested for stealing a car.
Sadly, almost every childhood friend I had has a police record. I wish more fathers would tell their sons more often how much they love them and share also how jail can destroy so many opportunities that lay before them.
I love to tell the ones I love, I love you.
It seems to me better to say it to their face as they are alive and not when they have passed on and you say it out of shame that when they were alive you too afraid because of a fear that has to do with a twisted ego and ignorance and pride of the devil.
Life becomes more beautiful for all concerned when we can simply say to our family and friends the simple words of,
I LOVE YOU!
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