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One of the sweetest phrases a man will ever hear comes directly from the heart:
“I love you, Daddy.”
Whether the words originate from the mouth of a toddler, teenager, full-grown offspring or somewhere in between, something magical happens when they’re spoken.
Precious little girls can bat their eyes and melt their old man’s heart, all the while wrapping him around their pinky fingers.
Little boys can lower their heads, shrug their shoulders and weasel themselves out of all sorts of trouble with the simple four-word phrase.
“I love you, Daddy,” transcends all cultural standards, all ethnic differences, all familial boundaries.
It’s been said — and meant — innumerable times throughout history.
With Father’s Day coming up this weekend, I anticipate several area churches around Roane County will be distributing special bulletins prepared by caring Sunday school teachers and their pint-sized pupils.
Back in the neck of the woods where I spent most of my life, I particularly remember one Father’s Day Sunday about 15 years ago.
A special insert made its way into the church bulletin.
Over and over, youngsters (and some oldsters) let their daddies know how much they were loved.
Dear friend Sharon Harding, the mother of two herself, spearheaded the project that included several memorable statements.
One really caught my attention.
“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” — David O. McKay, circa 1956.
That rang a bell loud and clear.
Rushing home that afternoon, I did a quick bit of research. A similar statement gleaned during my second, third or fourth reading of “Big Stone Gap,” a novel by my high school pal Adriana Trigiani, struck a chord.
And there it was, way back in Chapter 10.
Characters Ave Maria Mulligan and “Jack Mac” MacChesney are reminiscing when Jack speaks his profound words: “The best thing a father can do for his son is love his mother.”
This dad … and I’m betting I’m not alone … sometimes has a little trouble showing my darling wife — the mother of my son — how much I love her.
Hers may be the hand that rocks the cradle, but it’s mine that holds her other.
It is my prayer that I show my love for my wife often enough that our son takes notice.
Maybe someday he’ll do an even better job.
And then, when his little boy or little girl looks up into his eyes and says “I love you, Daddy” he’ll feel as I — and so many of you — do this week.
And, by the way, you’re never too old to tell your old man how you feel.
Our son ends every telephone conversation from up at the Big University with “I love you, Dad.”
And when I talk to my pop, I always add my own “I love you” before hanging up.