The new Eric
My dad has never been a particularly demonstrative person. You could blame it on his Swedish roots, his Midwestern upbringing, or his introversion. Regardless of the cause, though, there was never a ton of hugging or kissing in my childhood, and I can't actually remember him saying he loved me (that's not to say it never happened; it was just not a regular occurrence)--for example, it's not something we said when getting off the phone after our regular weekly chats throughout my adulthood.
Now, don't get me wrong: I never ONCE confused his lack of professions of love with an actual lack of love. I knew that man loved me more than life itself, and I knew it with the same certainty that I know the Earth orbits the sun or that Golden Retriever puppies are ridiculously cute. It's just that Dad's love for his family was demonstrated in much same way his religious faith always has been: through his actions.
But suddenly, his days are numbered (well; they always were, it's just that we now know that number is far lower than we expected), and he doesn't know which goodbye will be the last. And that, ladies and gents, has turned our somewhat taciturn Eric Wedell into a gregarious mushball.
And as much as I loved the old Eric, I have to say this new Eric is FANTASTIC.
Seeing his smile on FaceTime is the highlight of my day, not least because, at the end of the call, we blow kisses to each other (and catch them--that's very important; otherwise they could end up on the wall behind you or something) and he says what have become my three favorite words in the English language: "I love you."
I love you too, Dad.