Why did my father wait to tell me he loved me until he was on his deathbed? I can barely believe it as he was aggressive towards me when I was a child and dismissive of anything I did as an adult. He mocked my career as a vet telling me only animals would put up with my behaviour. He was also rude about my wife saying: “I suppose that was all you could get.” It was, I always thought, extraordinary behaviour for someone who was profoundly religious.
I decided to have nothing more to do with him since he was so rude to my wife.
Ten years later I had a phone call telling me he was very ill and wanted to see me. I thought his request made no sense as he had not attempted to contact me in all that time. But, despite my negative feelings, I went to see him in hospital. It was a terrible shock to see him so emaciated and only half conscious. He recognised me and tried to give me his hand. I held it then sat down on his bed. “Forgive me” he whispered. “I have always loved you.” As he spoke I realised it was the first time he had ever said anything so positive to me. Before I could stop myself I replied “I love you too” then added “That’s the first time you’ve ever said that.” He died the following day and now, several months later, I still can’t make head nor tail of his behaviour. Did he I wonder try to make sure he went to heaven rather than hell?