"I love you, Dad /Mom" in English, and especially in Samoan, is rarely spoken. And even if/when finally uttered, it seems to feel like some unwritten code or tradition has been breached or broken. How can something that is good and noble invite much hesitancy and, to some, aversion? Good question. Because I too don't remember ever telling my Dad that I loved him (except in writing like that last post/tribute). The reverse is true also. I don't remember my parents telling me that they loved me - though they truly do. And it doesn't mean that we love each other any less. But the silent hesitance and reluctance is always there. Some have crossed the threshold but by and large the reservations still linger.
I've heard some palagis relating to the same dilemma although I had always thought that part of the reason, or excuse, that we Samoans don't do it is because it's a "palagi" thing. Apparently other cultures have the same "problem" and is still largely perpetuated today.
But there is something interesting and amazing about this whole enigma. We seem to be more comfortable and generous in expressing our affections in writing more than speaking - as I alluded to it earlier.
A few days leading up to this past Mother's Day, some of our children changed their Facebook profile pictures to either include their mother or just her, along with the usual endearing notes, tributes and comments written to, for and about her. Father's Day was no different. The kids used my pictures for their profiles and also wrote their expressions of love and appreciation. The comments ranged from a couple of short sentences to deep and meaningful paragraphs. Despite the length, their love, appreciation and affections seemed to have been penned with no inhibitions at all. They were heartfelt, sincere and touching; I could actually feel their love for me through their thoughtful and loving comments. So should I thank Facebook? Uhmmm... I think so! Would my children have been able to articulate the same thoughts verbally? I doubt it, and I'm sure they would agree. Why? Is it part of human nature?
Again the interesting and ironic - sometimes befuddling - thing is that we were all together as a family during Father's Day weekend, and yet I still had to go to Facebook to get the more complete versions of their expressions of love and appreciation, some of which may never be articulated as effectively in a face-to-face interaction. Close and yet so far? In fact husbands and wives are guilty of the same when in favor of texting to each other the same or similar sentiments more than expressing them verbally.
Sociability is something that is natural to man according to Aristotle and others, and a whole new dimension of the phenomenon exists in cyberspace today because of modern technology.
So thank you Facebook for being the medium for my children to express their Father's Day wishes. The truth is that such endearments are usually offered only when one is going - or has already gone - "gently into that good night." :)
.... and, oh FB, I will have a page soon and this is going to be my profile pic ......LOL!!