Five things I wish I could say to my father this Father’s Day
My father has been gone for 17 years this October. To put that in perspective, he died a year before 9/11. That's a long time. Yet not a day goes by that he doesn't enter my mind. He was only 62 years old. I did his eulogy at his funeral, and I pointed out that instead of us feeling bitter about a shorter life we had to embrace the time we had with him. The truth is, I wish I'd had more.
I always think about him on Father's Day, naturally. This Father's Day, there are things I wish I could say to him.
1) Dad, these are your grandchildren, and this is my wife. Jack, Mina, Atticus, and Cooper, and my wife Aubree. You would have loved them so much. I had Jack four and a half years after you passed away, and just like I never got to meet your dad, my kids will never get to meet mine. Not here anyway. You'd be impressed by Jack's intelligence and kindness, Mina's craziness and humor, Atticus' passion and empathy already showing at such a young age, and Cooper's eyes. I swear they are yours. They look right inside me just like yours did. They would have loved how quirky you were, and how kind. And this is my wife. Aubree is my home, my world, and the thing you told me to wait for. I stopped believing it existed. Then I found her. Don't worry about me knowing what true love is, Dad. I know you believed in it even though you never found it yourself. I'm here to tell you it exists.
2) I've made mistakes, just as you said I would. They weren't the ones you thought I'd make, and I didn't handle them as well as you would have hoped. But I've learned from them. I promise you that. I've tried to be the person you told me I could be. You believed in me so much that I hope I haven't let you down. I know your grandchildren will make their own. I realize now it's truly the only way to grow.
3) I miss you. I told you I loved you all the time even though you were from that old school that could never say it back. But I know you loved me, don't worry. You were that one person in my family who knew me best. When you had to leave us, I felt like my whole family had been taken because that's how close we were. You are never forgotten, and I tell stories of you to my kids just like you told me of your dad. Just like I hope they will of me to their own. Just know I miss you, and that you are as loved now as you ever were.
4) I'm sorry. I know I was a good kid, but I'm sorry nonetheless for not being perfect. For the night I came home drunk and underage and threw up on your coffee table keeping you up on a work night. For the money I had to borrow. For the times I ignored your advice. For jumping the curb with your car the very first time you taught me to drive. As always, you were kinder than you had to be.
5) Thank you. You taught me to dream. You never treated anything I was interested in as ridiculous. You taught me to believe in myself. You taught me the value of hard work. You taught me that I wasn't better than anybody. You taught me how to lose and how to win. I still thank you for taking me out of that smoke filled reception hall when I was 6 years old and couldn't eat any of the food there and brought me to a McDonald's. I thank you for all the times you took me to Seaside. I thank you for that night at a beach house when you were so tired and everyone else had gone to bed but I was still wide awake. You said you'd stay up with me. I said you didn't have to. What you said next is something I've never forgotten. You said, "There will be a time when I won't be able to be here with you, so I want to stay up with you while I can." Thank you for those times. And thank you, so much, for being my dad.