Brushed My Hair Back

In this excerpt from Wunnerful, Wunnerful! the Autobiography of Lawrence Welk, © 1971, he talks about how hard it was for him to express his emotions verbally:

I had always thought my mother was beautiful, but she looked especially so to me as she held (my newborn daughter) Shirley for the first time. She settled down in her old rocking chair, cuddling Shirley close, murmuring soft German phrases to her, singing some old-country lullabies, as Shirley nestled contentedly in her arms. Suddenly the years melted away and I could remember her doing the same thing when I was a small boy. I realized with a pang that my mother was growing old. I didn’t like to think about that. Instead I wanted to tell her how much I loved her. But, as usual, I couldn’t quite get the words out. I sat down beside her, and she stopped rocking and reached out and brushed my hair back in the old way, and then she smiled at me, her eyes warm and tender as always.

I smiled, too. I loved her so much. But I couldn’t seem to tell her.

That wasn’t an uncommon problem for men of that generation.  My own father is the same way.  I don’t think I’ve heard him say the words, “I love you.”

But if you pay attention, he expresses it in other ways.

When the weather’s bad, he calls to make sure I made it home safely.  When I come over in the morning, he offers me a cup of coffee and a cookie.  He cuts out coupons for me if he thinks they’re something I could use.

You just have to know how to read the signs.


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