Tenderness was not his native tongue

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My brother John, bless his heart, went to my Dad and asked, “Dad, how did you make it through all those experiences…?”

My dad said, “You just do what you have to do.”

I have 6 brothers and a sister. Most of my brothers, at some point, tried to have The Talk with my Dad. It never got any deeper or more tender than what John heard. Sometimes it got really angry.

My Dad was a lawyer. Tenderness is not a language he ever learned. I loved his laugh. I loved his competence. I loved that even though by day he was a DC lawyer, on the every-other-weekends with him we’d see him with shirt untucked, a beer belly, and often a butt crack as he worked to fix the boats (which seemed to break down often).

To this day when I hear the expression “man up” I think of my Dad, emotions suppressed by the parenting he got and supported by bourbon and ginger ale (and Budweiser).

This quote about Tenderness being a “native tongue” stood out for me this morning because I am trying on the identity of: “I am bilingual.” What do bilingual people DO? Well, they read and speak in different languages! While I am far from being fluent in Spanish, I did a song for Adira the other day in Spanish, that I made up entirely myself.

Doesn’t that make me bilingual?

But what about the 5 Love Languages?

Turns out “I am multilingual.” I speak many different languages, including ones like Tenderness that my Dad did not speak.

And with all languages, there’s poetry, too. I want my kids and my kin to hear and feel the poetry that is in Tenderness, from me to We, shared in We-Space. Join me, won’t you?

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