To the editor:
Today is a day of great joy and great sadness for me. On the one hand, I get yet another chance to remember my dear wonderful father, John A. Carlton, who was the greatest man I ever knew. He may have been the only real man I ever knew. Dad was not only my father, but he was truly my best friend. I have often heard the saying that you can't be a friend to your children when they are growing up, you have to be a parent. Dad proved this false. From the day I was born in 1948 until the day he passed away in 2009, he was both.
The day after I brought him out to my place in Seattle to live from Steubenville, I had major surgery. He was 93 years old but he took better care of me than Florence Nightingale could ever have done. Then a few years later when his health broke down, I took care of him. We helped each other out of love.
It is this latter issue I would like to discuss. For the last six weeks of his life, he was shuttled from one hospital to another. No matter where he was, I would visit him every day. And, on each occasion, as I was about to leave, I would kiss him and say, "Dad, I love you." This was nothing new. For years, Dad and I would kiss and tell each other how much we loved each other. And when Mom was around, there was a tremendous amount of kissing and holding and hugging. We were a very close family and we had no difficulty in expressing our love.
However, I cannot tell you how many times after I told Dad I loved him that a male doctor or nurse or whomever would come up to me and say, "I don't know how you do it. I could never tell my father I love him." I found this to be very sad.
To all of you men - If you see your father today, go up to him, say, "Dad, I love you," and kiss him on the cheek. He may be shocked and so will you, but it will go down as one of the happiest experiences of your life as well as his.
Happy Father's Day.
R. Scott Carlton
Big Red Class of 1966