At age 25, I became a Father. Dad didn’t waste his time by telling the grandchildren "I love you." That didn’t matter because I knew we are all lovable, but it bothered me because infants are such mirrors for the soul. What’s not to love about a baby? And what’s not to appreciate about a person who feeds, changes the diapers, and tolerates the personal inconveniences of another human being for the sake of relationship?
Honestly I only remember him telling me "I love you" once in my life on the telephone and that was after my parents returned from a spiritual retreat. I felt this was more the consequence of the weekend than it was a change of heart. Admission is allowed once the ticket gets punched–not vice-versa.
I chose to love Dad after he suffered brain damage in 1998 (see hospice). It is hard to let go of "hate memories" but this must be done. It was my good fortune to spend time last summer helping provide care for Dad during Mom’s knee-replacement surgery. I assisted with meals, personal hygiene, and clutter removal.
I gained a new outlook by experiencing life through Dad’s vulnerability.