Three very simple words that possess the power to literally change everything.
We’ve heard them so may times we don’t always realize their full implication.
If we don’t hear them, it has a profoundly negative impact on our life.
If we don’t say them, it has a profoundly negative impact on our life.
But what if that’s all you could say?
My father was born and raised in Cuba.
He left, in his words, for survival. He was one of the lucky ones who was able to leave. But he left alone. His entire family remained, cheering him on. He had a chance at a better life. His father knew his talents would not reach full potential and/or would possibly be stifled so he blessed him and urged him to go and find a new path in a new place.
Can you imagine? Encouraging your son to risk it all because you knew there was a better way for him, because you knew there was certain heartache if he remained, knowing you would most likely not see him again if he did go?
What courage. What sacrifice. What pain.
Growing up my dad didn’t speak much about his childhood in Cuba. He was busy building his family and business. I do remember occasionally he would receive letters from home. I can also remember times when he would try to send things to his brothers. But there was never a guarantee that they would get it. Mail and packages were notoriously ripped open and the contents read, stolen or destroyed. It must have been hard for my dad not knowing how his family was. It must have been hard for my Grandpa not knowing how his son was.
Very rarely there would be a phone call that was able to come through. Dad was able to talk with his father. I could hear him speaking Spanish. This wasn’t uncommon in our house hold, as a doctor he had many Spanish speaking patients, but his tone was different when a call from home came. He would call us to come around and put the phone to each one of our ear. And then I heard it. The voice of an old man simply saying the words that change everything.
I love you.
That’s all my grandpa could say. He didn’t speak english, or at least not that I knew of. I don’t really remember my response…I’m sure I replied, “I love you too.” Those phone calls did not come often enough. Actually there were painfully few as I recall.
It’s all I have from him. But it’s everything. He loved me before I was born. He gave me a life that I could not possess for myself. He gave me his son. He gave me what he could have kept for himself but didn’t. He gave me the best of himself without concern for his own well-being. He broke the cycle of living in tyranny and unjust societal and political conditions. My grandpa did it by sending his son off to make life better for himself and others.
I’m sure my grandpa’s heart broke. I hope the few times we were able to exchange “I love you’s” on the phone parts of it were mended back together.
I can still hear his voice today.
I love you.
With his whispered tone I hear what is not said audibly: I believe in you, you’ve been given skills and ability to bless the world, go do it. His weakened voice echo without words: You deserve love and peace and a family that can live in freedom and opportunity. I’m so happy you have that.
I love you.
Three very simple words that posses the power to literally change everything.
My grandpa gave me everything.
I love you Grandpa.