Today I called my Dad to wish him a happy Father's Day and for the first time ever, I told him out loud that I loved him.
His response was simply, "You too." I took it as a good start as we had never been able to cross that threshold before and whether it was something he was not ready to commit to or I had just caught him by surprise, at least his response was not an awkward silence I would have to reflect on later.
My father has always been a silent man, but I believe it is in this silence that some of his greatest virtues have been made apparent.
For instance, I have never heard my father speak ill of another human being for being who they are. I have never heard him pass judgement on someone based on their sexuality, colour, ethnicity, or any other similar trait. I have never heard him belittle anyone based on their abilities (except for that one time he had to keep taking his car back to a certain garage because each time he drove his car home there was another issue that didn't exist when he had brought it in the first time) or their beliefs, and I have never heard him utter sexist or degrading comments.
In comparison, I have witnessed him sacrifice his own wants and needs for those of his family. I have watched him work long hours to pay the bills and keep a roof over our heads. I have seen him treat others with kindness and respect. I have benefited greatly from his ability to accept me unconditionally and do his best to be the best father he can be; even to the point of saving my proverbial "bacon" on those rare occasions I was short on funds and he, without hesitation, handed it over, foregoing any pressure to pay it back in all haste. I never even knew if he could afford it himself and I am not sure if he would have let me know one way or another even had I asked.
It is because of these things that I choose to ignore the old adage of to "do as I say and not as I do". Instead, I try to live my life as my father has, by saying less and doing more. I don't think I will ever be as good a man as he is but I am trying."
I love you dad. Happy Father's Day and thank you for showing me what a real man should be.