Old Softies

bud and dadTwice a week, I find myself in rooms with many men who grew up with difficult, even abusive fathers, men who say things like, I know my father loved me, even if he couldn’t show it.   I am fortunate to have had a father who made it clear that he loved me, more often by his actions than his words.  Was he difficult?  Not by the standards of my friends in those rooms.  Still, he could be a strict disciplinarian with a quick hand (as was the nature of discipline back then) and he had a tendency to push me toward being better by pointing out the things I didn’t do well instead of my successes (also more common back then).  He was a man of few words.  My uncle once said to me, Your Dad doesn’t have much to say but when he does, he sure knows what he’s talking about.   Dad wasn’t given to emotional or philosophical discussions … that was the province of my Mom.  No one ever called my Dad a Softie and if they had, he’d likely have considered it insulting.

When Dad was in his seventies he went through what Mom would have called a bad patch.  Mom had passed away from the effects of diabetes and Dad was dealing with depression, anxiety and some peculiar hallucinations involving the television, the thermostat and a backwards spinning clock.  It took some time in nursing care, medication and a lot of love to get him functioning enough to move to an assisted living Dadfacility, where he began to thrive again.  That trauma changed him.  He became a man who cried regularly, not just in sadness thinking about my mother but tears of joy when he spoke of his family … or how lucky he was to be living in such a beautiful place.   I was fortunate to have a client in Connecticut that allowed me to see him almost monthly and we began to have regular conversations about his life and mine.  I remember one time I told him his veterans benefits were helping pay for his care and he cried, touched that his service was being recognized.   Dad had become An Old Softie, though I suspect he might have still denied it.

I am now seventy-three, and though my health has been excellent, life’s storms have been wearing me down.   Family illnesses, my son’s struggles with his own demons, and Elvistoothe death of a beloved pet, Elvis, have left me emotionally raw.   I am sure my regular dose of Prozac is keeping me out of the abyss but many nights I go to bed exhausted and it takes some morning journaling to jump start my day.  The other night, I watched that silly sci-fi film, Independence Day, and cried three times.  But I also teared up watching a family of bluebirds in the park and thinking about my beautiful grandkids.  Being emotionally raw not only makes me more sensitive to the sadness in my life, it makes me appreciate the good and the beautiful.   I’ve become An Old Softie in my seventies, just like my Dad.  Just like my Dad.  That may be the best of my gifts this Father’s Day.

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4 Comments on “Old Softies”

  1. Glenn Reed Says:

    I sure miss him

  2. Mike C Says:

    An old softie is okay. It’s better than being the opposite which word escapes me now. Thanks for sharing!

  3. bluestempond Says:

    Bud, I love that you can express your introspective thoughts so well.

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