I hold my son. Even though he is 10 years old, and sprouting like a weed on a march to five feet tall, and even though he is pushing 90 pounds, I still hold him every chance I get.
I pick him up and carry him. My back be damned! I hug him and hold him often. I kiss him and tell him how much he means to me a hundred times a day.
We are affectionate and loving and playful and caring with each other. We kiss each time we part and each time we meet. We laugh and cry together. We are silly and serious, both father and son as well as best friends.
I learned this from my dad.
Until the day that Ferrel Youngblood died, he would hug me and kiss me every time we saw each other. It didn’t matter how old I was. It didn’t matter how old he was. It didn’t matter that I was half a foot taller than him. It didn’t matter what anyone thought.
What did matter was the fact that he loved me and he always wanted to show me that love. He wanted me to know that love deep in my heart. To feel that love. He never wanted me to forget how much I was loved. He always wanted me to know that I was special and how lucky he was to have me. That was all that mattered.
People have told me from the day my son was born that the holding would go away as my son aged. I didn’t listen. I knew they were wrong.
They have told me that we would not always be able to keep that bond. I didn’t listen, I knew they were wrong.
They still tell me the time will come when he wants no part of holding hands with his dad. No part of being seen with his father. I don’t listen. I know they are wrong.
Why do I know this? How can I be sure?
Because I am teaching him the lessons that were taught to me. Not with words but instead with something for more powerful. With actions. With feelings. With emotions. With heart.
Through all the years, as I got older and became my own man… became “cool,” became “Rob,” became hardened by the lessons of life and any bitterness of problems and tough times… I never lost the desire to hold my dad. To hug him. To kiss him. To tell him I loved him and to hold his hand. To hold him.
In fact, just the opposite happened. I proudly embraced those traits just as I embraced him. For me it was a badge of honor. It was what made me special and unique and ultimately much more “cool” than I ever could have planned.
My dad knew exactly what he was doing. His non-stop affection made me confident and strong yet caring and empathetic. It was the foundation for everything I am. It was solid bedrock beyond compare.
The small town farm boy from Indiana led with his heart not with his head. He simply did what he felt was right. He showed his son the meaning of love. And now I strive to show my son the same thing.
One of the greatest joys of my life was holding my dad. And it is one of the things I miss the most now that he is gone.
So… I hold my son. I hold him like there is no tomorrow. Because there might not be. I hold him with all the joy and happiness that I have. And that joy is even greater because I know that he holds me back. That he wants to hold me. That he enjoys it and it is important to him.
People continue to tell me that it will end one day but I know they are wrong. Our love and affection will always be our greatest bond. Those traits will never disappear. Why? Because it is a priority, plain and simple, and my son and I will never forget that fact.
I am sure of this because I hold my son… I hold him every chance I get.