While signing autographs one day I noticed a man lingering nearby after he purchased my book about fathers and sons. “Is that your daughter?” he finally asked, pointing to the book I had written for my daughter.
“Yes,” I answered.
“Do you let her know you love her?” he asked.
“Of course,” I answered, surprised by his question.
“Good,” he said. “Too many men aren’t comfortable saying that, especially to boys.” He smiled and walked away.
I remembered then a friend who once told me about his father, a man of few words.
My friend is a huge sports fan, largely because it was through sports that he spent time with his dad. Yet, as time passed, he and his father stopped attending games as often as they once did. “Dad wasn’t much of a talker,” he confided; “and we began to lose touch with each other.”
One day he and his new bride hosted a brunch for their families at a sports bar decorated with memorabilia. “At one point I looked at my dad,” he said, “and he pointed to a picture on the wall and smiled. It was of the old stadium where he and I used to go see ballgames.”
“All these years I thought I was the only one who held those memories sacred, but in that moment I knew my dad did, too. I promised myself then I would never let a day go by that I don’t tell my children how much I love them.”
I glanced across the bookstore and saw the man who had asked me if I told my daughter I loved her. He pushed the door open and with his free hand on his son’s shoulder, led him outside. I smiled, confident that that child, too, heard “I love you” often, if not everyday.
Although boys and girls may be different, they are identical in their need for love and acceptance. Say “I love you” as often as you can.