The Greatest Words I Never Heard

by

Reba McEntire, before she began her sitcom acting career, sang some of the saddest and most touching ballads of loneliness and longing. She has that evocative catch in her voice, and she tells picturesque, but believable stories in these sad songs. But, none of them has stayed with me like this one, which expresses a child’s desire for a father’s love and attention:

The greatest man I never knew

Lived just down the hall,

And every day we said hello,

But never touched at all.

He was in his paper;

I was in my room.

How was I to know he thought I hung the moon.

The greatest man I never knew

Came home late every night.

He never had too much to say;

Too much was on his mind.

I never really knew him,

And now it seems so sad;

Everything he gave to us too all he had.

Then the days turned into years,

And the memories to black and white.

He grew cold like an old winter wind

Blowing across my life.

The greatest words I never heard

I guess I’ll never hear.

The man I thought would never die,

S’been dead almost a year.

He was good at business

But there was business left to do.

He never said he loved me;

Guess he thought I knew.


A father expressing his love exercises an awesome power to shape a life. A father who fails to utilize this power also shapes a life. Present or absent, used or unused, the power of the father is lifelong, and indelible. This sad song wakes me up every time.


I’m not trying to motivate you with guilt, nor cause you to abandon your work in a panic to run home and squeeze your kids. I am, however, wanting to put that lump in your throat, and that resolve in your will, to NEVER stop telling your children that you love them with a love they didn’t earn, and therefore, a love they cannot lose.


I am told that there are places in Africa where they are still flying DC3’s. These airplanes were built in the 1940s! They just keep replacing the engines, landing gear, and instuments, and keep flying. DC3’s were constructed before computers and computer models. So, when the engineers wondered how to make the fuselage strong enough, and safe enough, for the stresses of flight, they simply over-engineered it at all the stress points. They ended up building them ten times stronger than they needed to be! They didn’t want to be marginal when it came to future safety.


So, the message is simple: when in doubt, say it again. Engineer, and over-engineer, your love into your children, so that they will know in the stresses of life that the First Man, their own Dad, loves them. Perhaps a sad song, and a tragic example will serve as a positive incentive.


SOUND OFF: Did your Dad ever actually verbalize the words: “I love you?” What has been the affect on your life?

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One Response to “The Greatest Words I Never Heard”

  1. Joel Stoeckel Says:

    Roger,
    Great message.
    Hope to see you Friday Morning.
    Joel

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