In a class I teach for adults, I recently did the “unpardonable.” I gave
the class homework! The assignment was to “go to someone you love within the
next week and tell them you love them.It has to be someone you have never said
those words to before or at least haven't shared those words with for a long
time.” Now that doesn't sound like a very tough assignment, until you stop to
realize that most of the men were over 35 and were raised in the generation of
men that were taught that expressing emotions is not “macho.”Showing feelings or
crying (heaven forbid!) was just not done.So this was a very threatening
assignment for some.
At the beginning of our next class,I asked if someone wanted to share what
happened when they told someone they loved them.I fully expected one of the
women to volunteer, as was usually the case,but on this evening one of the men
raised his hand.He appeared quite moved and a bit shaken. As he unfolded out of
his chair(all 6 2" of him),he began by saying, "Dennis, I was quite angry with
you last week when you gave us this assignment.I didn't feel that I had anyone
to say those words to, and besides, who were you to tell me to do something that
personal? But as I began driving home my conscience started talking to me.It was
telling me that I knew exactly who I needed to say I love you to."
"You see, five years ago, my father and I had a vicious disagreement and
really never resolved it since that time.We avoided seeing each other unless we
absolutely had to at Christmas or other family gatherings.But even then, we
hardly spoke to each other. So last Tuesday by the time I got home I had
convinced myself I was going to tell my father I loved him.It’s weird, but just
making that decision seemed to lift a heavy load off my chest.''
''When I got home, I rushed into the house to tell my wife what I was going
to do. She was already in bed, but I woke her up anyway. When I told her, she
didn’t just get out of bed, she catapulted out and hugged me, and for the first
time in our married life she saw me cry. We stayed up half the night drinking
coffee and talking. It was great!"
“The next morning I was up bright and early. I was so excited I could
hardly sleep. I got to the office early and accomplished more in two hours than
I had the whole day before."
“At 9:00 I called my dad to see if could come over after work. When he
answered the phone, I just said, ‘Dad, can I come over after work tonight? I
have something to tell you.’ My dad responded with a grumpy, ‘Now what?’ I
assured him it wouldn’t take long, so he finally agreed.
“At 5:30, I was at my parents’ house ringing the doorbell, praying that Dad
would answer the door. I was afraid if Mom answered that I would chicken out and
tell her instead. But as luck would have it, Dad did answer the door."
“I didn’t waste any time – I took one step in the door and said, ‘Dad, I
just came over to tell you that I love you.’
“It was as if a transformation came over my dad. Before my eyes his face
softened, the wrinkles seemed to disappear and he began to cry. He reached out
and hugged me and said, ‘I love you too, son, but I’ve never been able to say
“It was such a precious moment I didn’t want to move. Mom walked by with
tears in her eyes. I just waved and blew her a kiss. Dad and I hugged for a
moment longer and then I left. I hadn’t felt that great in a long time.
“But that’s not even my point. Two days after that visit, my dad, who had
heart problems, but didn’t tell me, had an attack and ended up in the hospital,
unconscious. I don’t know if he'll make it.
“So my message to all of you in this is: Don’t wait to do the things you
know need to be done. What if I had waited to tell my dad – maybe I will never
get the chance again! Take the time to do what you need to do and do it