“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.