Translating my dad’s language

“I love you,”

My dad’s mouth struggles to say it.

Not from ailment or illness.

He learned love as a parent loving you enough to withhold, insult, isolate.

“I love you, and so I make you better in informing you how useless you currently are.”

I wonder how many times he translated “selfish” to “potential” or “worthless” to “worthy”, only that I never want my loved ones to translate everything I tell them.

That’s the thing about being an adult with a living parent, we notice the ghosts that haunted them throughout our childhoods. Parent melt from horrible to human.

He is sixty-five now, and age has softened the harsh corners of his language. He calls he every Sunday, and if he doesn’t say it, I say it first.

“I love you.” my mouth, an operatic megaphone to those words. “I love you. I see you. I’m proud of you”. I say them to him, the words my dad longed to hear from his dad.

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