Life-Changing Conversations My Father Never Knew He Had With Me
I have shared different versions of this story before, but with Valentine’s day next week, I thought this short story of marital love was worthy of repeating.
Did you catch the headline? Read it again. What am I talking about? I’m talking about the values my father instilled in me not by what he said—but by what his life said. His life, not his words, were our conversations.
For example, he never lectured me on commitment in marriage—he never intentionally sought to have a conversation on this subject—although his marriage was one of the best I have ever known. After seventeen years of marriage, my mom died of cancer. He raised the six of us alone. Yet, not a day went by that he didn't think of her--he just didn't share it with the world.
I once stopped by his house after I had been recently married. While we chatted, I unconsciously slipped my wedding ring off the end of my finger, then slid it back on.
Surprised, he said, “What did you just do?”
“Nothing. I just slid my wedding ring off my finger.”
“Why would you do that?”
Puzzled, I said, “What do you mean, Dad?”
“Do you take your wedding ring off often?”
Then I realized my father was going to take me to hallowed ground—his heart.
He glanced at his bare ring finger and spoke just above a whisper. “I told your mother at our wedding that when she placed the ring on my finger, it would never pass the end of my finger again as long as she lived.”
I knew the rest of the story. Seven years after my mother died, a jeweler had to cut his wedding ring off his finger because it was too tight. For almost 25 years, his wedding ring never passed the end of his finger.
We didn’t plan this conversation. In fact, I’m sure my father would never remember it—but I’ll never forget it. Why did it resonate? It lives in my memory for a few reasons: the sheer impact of its message regarding his commitment to my mother, this was one of the rare instances he granted me assess to his heart, and because of his humility, he would never know this was a teachable, life-changing moment for me.
If he were alive today, he would not take credit for the values he instilled deep inside each of his six children—values I witness every time I’m with my siblings.
When I survey my life, I believe my value system, in part, was built through conversations my father never knew he had with me.