Self Help

A Tale of Two Nails

Once upon a time when I was about six years old I was out helping my father unload firewood from the back of his 1965 International pickup truck.  I remember that truck cost about $1,500 when it was new.  Today it would cost close to that just for a set of truck tires.

I still remember that day like it was yesterday. I bent over to pick up a log.  The log was so heavy and I was so little that the log won the battle and dropped back to the bed of the pickup with my thumb still underneath it.   It took the thumb nail clean off and there was blood everywhere.

My parents wrapped up my thumb carefully and put me in bed where I can remember I was quite happy to be.  For one of the only times in my life that I can remember, I even got the sympathy and compassion of my father who was normally very stern and insensitive.  He visited my bedside and was quite kind. 

I suppose if there is a lesson to any of this is that even the most uncaring and stoic people among us still have a soft spot if we can only find it.  My father also had stern and insensitive parents so it is no wonder he was the way he was.

I have always believed that our parents make us who are.  We seek to either emulate the things we like about them or do the opposite of what we don’t like about them. 

In my father’s case, I got his work ethic, a can-do attitude and an ability to take on big jobs and see them through to completion.  The thing I did not like about my father was his cold indifferent demeanor especially toward his children.  He never once told me he loved me or that he was proud of me.  I was usually happy and took it as a pat on the back to just not get yelled at.

I now do the opposite with my children.  I tell them that I love them and that I am proud of them.  I give them hugs even as adults.  They I know I love them without a shadow of a doubt.

The thing is I know my father loved us too he just never learned how to show it.  Yet there was that late fall day when I was six years old that my father opened up his heart just a little to show me that he cared.  That little bit is all I ever needed to know.

So parents and especially dads, let your children know you care.  Do it often.  Your children will carry those tender moments with them throughout their lives.

The left nail grew in different.