I Love You

It was the battle over the dressing gown that finally did it; the straw that broke the camel’s back. After two days of cajoling and encouraging — after two days of taking deep breaths when he growled angrily — after two days of digging deep into my well of patience… the dressing gown did it. I had no more to give.

We were by the edge of his bed, just a few more minutes and he’d be tucked in and I could relax. I just needed to take off his dressing gown, but his eyes flared with anger as I coaxed and pleaded with him. As I look back now, I wonder if I should have just let him get into bed with his dressing gown on.
“Let me take off your dressing gown, Ben,” I said reaching to untie the belt. I rarely called him ‘dad’ these days. He saw me as a stranger … I saw him as a stranger … he was no longer my dad.

He pulled my hand away and then started to shout at me to ‘go away’ and to ‘get out’. As he repeated ‘get out’ over and over and louder and louder I knew it was time for me to leave the room, it was time for me to give him a break, it was time for mum to take over. As I turned to mum, without warning my eyes welled and tears spilled down my cheeks. I don’t know why I cried. He’d been angry on and off with me for two days. He’d been cold, he’d been withdrawn, he’d been ignoring me. I’m not sure why the tears arrived now. I felt surprise at them, I hadn’t been holding them back, I hadn’t even known they were there … but they came with speed and fell fast.

Mum looked alarmed when she saw my face and then turned to dad, her voice edged with condemnation. “Look what you’ve done, you’ve made her cry.”
I moved away from the scene, my whole being was thick with tiredness. I needed to regroup. As I left the room I glanced up and caught his eye. When he saw my tears his countenance seemed to change. The battling, frustrated and confused man dissolved and instead I was left looking into eyes that glowed with concern.

At first I couldn’t compute that his was the same man. He was looking straight into my eyes and I felt seen. “Are you alright?’ he asked gently.

“No, I’m sad,’ I said. I didn’t want to pretend, I didn’t want to protect him — I felt a raw sadness and there was something so right in me feeling and expressing it.
He gestured for me to come over and patted the bed beside him and we both sat together. This simple caring gesture melted my heart and fresh tears spilled.

“I’m OK dad, I’m OK.”
He looked at me with a gentleness, I could sense his desire to soothe me, it was something I hadn’t seen for years. He had no words to articulate what was going on in his muddled brain, so instead he pulled me towards him, put his arm over my shoulder and said, “I love you,”

These words touched me more deeply than I can express and fresh, nourishing tears dripped down my cheeks. My dad hasn’t said ‘I love you,’ in years. As I put my head on his bony shoulder I realised how much I miss him. As he saw fresh tears he seemed unsettled with soft concern.

“I love you,” he said again.
“I love you dad,” I said. “I love you”

In that moment we stayed touching a place of eternity, beyond the soul. It was as beautiful as the first rays of the morning sun touching the cold ground and I savoured that feeling of being a daughter once again.

 

6 Comments

  1. Dee Brodie

    This is such a beautiful story ….I found it so moving and touching, beyond normal (whatever that is) and actually for me in the realms of mystery, love and magic…beyond mind and logic. Thank you so much for sharing it Liz …it gives me such joy to read the words.

    Reply
    • Belinda Seward

      Oh Liz this brought tears to my eyes . Your love for your Dad and his love for you is expressed so powerfully. What a beautiful reminder of the enduring presence of love. Thank you 🙏

      Reply
  2. Peter Jefford

    Deeply moving, thank you for sharing Liz x

    Reply
  3. Paola Royal

    What a beautiful story and wonderful moment for the two of you. Very special.
    Sending all my Love!

    Reply
  4. Ann Skinner

    Oh Liz, how heart warming and heart breaking at the same time. Sending you lots of love and acceptance x

    Reply
  5. Kay Reynolds

    I had tears streaming down my face reading this. So moving. X

    Reply

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About Inner Compass

Liz Scott & Stu Newberry are trainers, coaches and speakers. They work with individuals and groups across the UK. They also help develop coaching cultures (founded on wellbeing) within schools and organisations.

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How can you uncover your in-built resilience and wellbeing? What's the best way to share a message of wellbeing with others? The Inner Compass can guide you.

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Our articles, podcasts and resources will help people like you find the language to share the Inner Compass (also known as the Inside-Out understanding) with others.

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Discover the simplicity of powerful listening. Our Wellbeing Listener programmes are affordable and accessible.

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