Born Standing Up Passage

I read in my leisure time and I’ve been reading the Steve Martin Autobiography, “Born Standing Up.” Here is a passage about his parents that I thought was moving. He had a relationship with his dad with little communication and his dad was never there for him or there to support him. Here is what happened towards the end of his father’s life. I’m typing this all by hand to show how important I thought this was.

After our lunches, my parents, now in their eighties, would walk me to my car. I would kiss my mother on the cheek and wave awkwardly at my father as we said goodbye. But one afternoon, perhaps motivated by a vague awareness that time was running out, we hugged each other and he said, in a voice barely audible, “I love you.” This would be the first time these words were ever spoken between us. Several days later, I sent him a letter that begun, “I heard what you said,” and I wrote the same words back to him.

My father’s health declined further, and he became bedridden. There must be an instinct about when the end is near; Melinda (sister) and I found ourselves at our parents’ home in Laguna Beach, California. I walked into the house they had lived in for 35 years, and my tearful sister said, “He’s saying goodbye to everyone.” A nurse said to me, “This is when it all happens.” I didn’t know what she meant, but I soon understood.

I was alone with him in the bedroom; his mind was alert but his body was failing. He said, almost buoyantly, “I’m ready now.” I sat on the edge of the bed, and another silence fell over us. Then he said, “I wish I could cry, I wish I could cry.”

At first I took this as a comment on his condition but am forever thanking that I pushed on. “What do you want to cry about?” I said.

“For the love I received and couldn’t return.”

I felt a chill of familiarity.

There was another lengthy silence as we looked into each other’s eyes. At last he said, “You did everything I wanted to do.”

“I did it for you,” I said. Then we wept for the lost years. I was glad I didn’t say the more complicated truth: “I did it because of you.”