You know those conversations that come to an end, sometimes due to an awkward silence or from someone saying something that you do not agree with, or don’t have a good answer so you just stand there gazing at them, mouth open in defiance but nothing coming out, but then some time later the perfect response hits you…..but it is too late because the conversation has ended?
Happens to me too often to count, but usually I let it go after a little while of stewing while the other person has completely forgot about the conversation and has moved on with their life. But there is one conversation, OK, one set of conversations that happened in my lifetime that I never ever gave the right comeback, until now.
When I was growing up, I was the only son of four kids, worse yet I was in the middle so I wasn’t the oldest and wasn’t the baby. Today that doesn’t really matter, but it does when you are growing up, but that is not what this is about.
This is about being my Father’s only son. The one that he expected the most out of and pushed because he believed that I could achieve greatness if I “just applied myself”. That no matter how good I did at something, he never wanted me to rest on my laurels and accept that it was the best I could do. That there was always something better out there if I wanted it.
“You’re smart enough to do anything you want, if you just get off your ass and do it. Stop making excuses.” he would say, usually after I had just screwed something up. “Your mother and I believe in you, we are your biggest fans. Nobody can ever love you like your parents do, remember that!”
And I would sit there and listen, waiting for it to be over, usually nodding my head when he asked me a question, which usually evoked a “I can’t hear you, talk to us!”
So I would say something stupid like “OK” or “I understand” which was usually followed by a “I promise NEVER to do it again”, which we all knew was a flat out lie. I have heard the term “Foxhole prayers” used when people pray to God that if He just gets them out of this mess, that they would never put themselves in that position again. That is what I basically did with my Dad. He got me out of so many jams throughout my life, way more than I deserved. But I hated going to him to ask for help because of the way I felt after one of his “lectures”. How disappointing I was to him and how he knows I can do better if I wasn’t so lethargic. That if I lost weight I would feel better about myself and would not be so damn lazy, watching TV all day instead of being out playing like normal kids. Or how I didn’t apply myself in college and ended up dropping out because I had no ambition. Or how I had lost every job I ever had because I “took the easy way out” instead of going by the rules.
Well, you know what? It hit me this morning that I had the ability to give that man a comeback that I never thought to use. One that would have probably shut him up and know that I was a good person and that I was going to be OK eventually. Maybe because I never used it, I never got better until recently.
My Dad passed away a couple years ago and I miss him, we all miss him. He was a good man that worked hard to give his family everything they needed and most of what they wanted. He wasn’t perfect, but he did the best with what he knew. I am sad that I did not realize how much I would miss him until he was gone, but I know he is always watching over us and I know that he is still willing to hand out one of those dissertations any time I screw up.
But this time I am going to be ready with the greatest comeback ever. A “zinger” that would stop the world for a moment and that silence would not be an awkward one, it would be a proud one.
After he is done talking, even if it is only in my head, I would stand up, walk right up to him, look him right smack dab in the eyes and say . . . . .
Thank You Dad!