Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Chicken Soup for the Soul

                     Do It Now!

              By Dennis E. Mannering


     In a class I teach for adults, I recently did the

“unpardonable.”  I gave the class homework!  The assignment

was to “go to someone you love within the next week and

tell them you love them.  It has to be someone you have

never said those words to before or at least haven’t shared

those words with for a long time.”

     Now that doesn’t sound like a very tough assignment,

until you stop to realize that most of the men in that

group were over 35 and were raised in the generation of men

that were taught that expressing emotions is not “macho.” 

Showing feelings or crying (heaven forbid!) was just not

done.  So this was a very threatening assignment for some.

     At the beginning of our next class, I asked if someone

wanted to share what happened when they told someone they

loved them.  I fully expected one of the women to

volunteer, as was usually the case, but on this evening one

of the men raised his hand.  He appeared quite moved and a

bit shaken.

     As he unfolded out of his chair (all 6’2” of him), he

began by saying, “Dennis, I was quite angry with you last

week when you gave us this assignment.  I didn’t feel that

I had anyone to say those words to, and besides, who were

you to tell me to do something that personal?  But as I

began driving home my conscience started talking to me.  It

was telling me that I knew exactly who I needed to say ‘I

love you’ to.  You see, five years ago, my father and I had

a vicious disagreement and really never resolved it since

that time.  We avoided seeing each other unless we

absolutely had to at Christmas or other family gatherings. 

But even then, we hardly spoke to each other.  So, last

Tuesday by the time I got home I had convinced myself I was

going to tell my father I loved him.

     “It’s weird, but just making that decision seemed to

lift a heavy load off my chest.

     “When I got home, I rushed into the house to tell my

wife what I was going to do.  She was already in bed, but I

woke her up anyway.  When I told her, she didn’t just get

out of bed, she catapulted out and hugged me, and for the

first time in our married life she saw me cry.  We stayed

up half the night drinking coffee and talking.  It was


     “The next morning I was up bright and early.  I was so

excited I could hardly sleep.  I got to the office early

and accomplished more in two hours than I had the whole day


     “At 9:00 I called my dad to see if I could come over

after work.  When he answered the phone, I just said, ‘Dad,

can I come over after work tonight?  I have something to

tell you.’  My dad responded with a grumpy, ‘Now what?’  I

assured him it wouldn’t take long, so he finally agreed.

     “At 5:30, I was at my parents’ house ringing the

doorbell, praying that Dad would answer the door.  I was

afraid if Mom answered that I would chicken out and tell

her instead.  But as luck would have it, Dad did answer the


     “I didn’t waste any time - I took one step in the door

and said, ‘Dad, I just came over to tell you that I love


     “It was as if a transformation came over my dad. 

Before my eyes his face softened, the wrinkles seemed to

disappear and he began to cry.  He reached out and hugged

me and said, ‘I love you too, son, but I’ve never been able

to say it.’

     “It was such a precious moment I didn’t want to move. 

Mom walked by with tears in her eyes.  I just waved and

blew her a kiss.  Dad and I hugged for a moment longer and

then I left.  I hadn’t felt that great in a long time.

     “But that’s not even my point.  Two days after that

visit, my dad, who had heart problems but didn’t tell me,

had an attack and ended up in the hospital, unconscious.  I

don’t know if he’ll make it.

     “So my message to all of you in this class is this:

Don’t wait to do the things you know need to be done.  What

if I had waited to tell my dad -- maybe I will never get the

chance again!  Take the time to do what you need to do and

do it now!”

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