Ever since my dad died, I haven't been able to look at Father's Day cards; I hurry past them, or look away. A couple of months ago my mother showed me a letter that I wrote to my dad for Father's Day in 1982. I decided to publish it in this blog for Father's Day 2012. This is unedited, though as I was typing it I definitely had the impulse to tweak it a little. Happy Father's Day, Dad. I miss you every day.
Over the years I've tried, in small ways, to give back to you and to mother some of the love and support that I've received, which has meant so much to me. When you mentioned, during your recent trip to New York, that you didn't seem to have much of a chance to talk with me, I started to worry that you've been shortchanged.
So I thought I'd try to compensate by setting down a few of my thoughts for you on this Father's Day, instead of letting Hallmark do all the work. I want you to know that you've shaped my life and the person that I am.
Do you remember the time we went swimming in the ocean and a huge wave knocked both of us over? I lost my hold on you and I remember kicking my legs and pushing up towards the light and the air, and being scared because I couldn't breathe. (I wonder now, if you were scared too--for me? for you?) But then my head was above the water and you were there, laughing and saying something like, "Boy, that was a big one, wasn't it!" Every time I go into the ocean, or even a pool, I think about that, and I realize that if you had fussed all over me (I bet Mom would have!) I probably would have been afraid of the water for the rest of my life.
And every time an election rolls around I remember the time when I wasn't going to vote, and you lectured to me about how important it was to vote, that that was a right we fought for, it was one of the things that made this country what it is; I don't remember the exact words, but I was so impressed by your conviction that I don't think I've missed an election since.
Of course, I remember little things too--how you've patted my hand or squeezed my foot when I was crying or sick, to let me know that you cared.
And I've always been so proud when my school friends would tell me what great parents I have. (Mary Ida once compared you and Mom to characters in a fairy tale.)
We hear a lot these days about the "new" father who gets involved with his children and isn't afraid to show them his love. Well Dad, that's old hat to me 'cause that's always been your style.
Rita "Tuba" (remember her? a friend of mine from camp?) once talked with me about leaving home. "Your mother will cry," she said, "but it's your father who will miss you the most." I've thought about it and decided that she was right.
Happy Father's Day.
June 20, 1982