Sitting in church one day, I watched a father two pews up with his young son. The boy was probably about eight or nine. During the service, the little guy almost constantly had his hand on his dad – scratching his back, rubbing his hand up and down his side, occasionally working up to his dad’s hair and playing with it. My first thought was how annoying that would be, but that was quickly followed by the wonder of it. That little fellow had no hesitation in showing his love to his dad. And that dad showed his by never, ever rejecting the boy’s demonstrations of love.

What is it about dads? I knew my dad lived his life for me. All he did was for me. It was a pretty cool way to grow up, knowing you were the center of somebody’s universe. In many ways, all these decades later, I still am. I remember hubs holding ours and singing to them, tears in his eyes, but not from emotion. It was the pain of that tiny fist gripping the base-of-the-throat chest hair. But he kept singing!

The subject of fathers and children came up once in a college class. The instructor discussed how that parental emotion extends beyond the human race. She told of the watchers of the great gorillas observing a huge male resting with his back against a tree. His little baby came by and crawled over him, playing, the father patient if not involved. Then the baby tired and lay down to rest, his head on his dad’s hand which rested on the ground. They observers watched, shocked, when that adult gorilla obviously became uncomfortable and wanted to move. But he didn’t. Not until his baby woke up and no longer needed his hand/pillow.

I carry with me a picture of our youngest chest hair puller, his own, just a few weeks old, snuggled up in his arm. They are obviously intent on something, the daddy’s mouth open, speaking to her. The mom explained to me – they were watching football and the daddy was explaining the game. Sharing a moment, opening the world to his own center of the universe.

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