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Words Matter


Words matter.

Whether spoken or written, words are the very soul of our being and they define us as a person and individual.

My Dad use to say, “Don’t hold me accountable for what I think, hold me accountable for what I say.”

F Scott Fitzgerald wrote in his 1928 short story The Freshest Boy, “It isn’t given to us to know when one word will heal or one word will kill.”

I first read these words when I was a teenager in High School and they have “stuck” with me ever since.

Verbal or mental abuse is just as horrific and scaring as physical abuse.

My Father was not one on sentiment or affection.

The day I returned from the service he greeted me with a hand shake, a smile and a pat on the back. The word “love” wasn’t a word he was comfortable using. It wasn’t until many years later, days before he died, that I received a phone call while I was working out in the Northwest. It was Mom and she said “Your Dad wants to say something” and she handed the phone to him.

He had cancer and it was hard to talk but he gathered his strength and his raspy voice said, “Son, I love you.”

The last words I heard him speak.

Words matter.

The night my Mom died unexpectedly, I had stopped by to visit and run earnings for her. It was a cold freezing Ohio January night.

Before I left, Mom said, “Give us a hug lad” and as we hugged she said, “I love you and tell Bob I love him too.”

The last words I heard her speak.

Words matter.

In today’s world of ethnic and identity put downs, name calling and political hate mongering, it’s obvious we have lost a sense of what words mean.

What action do they stir and incite in the heart?

What do they teach our youth?

What memories or scars are left by the verbal abuse?

“…one word will heal or one word will kill.”

Words matter.

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