A letter to my Dad
I live more than a thousand miles away from my pop but we might not have been this close had I not moved away. I guess distance does make the heart grow.
Dad and I communicate via email through my mom and shout at each other on the phone (his hearing is dwindling). I send him books for Christmas, cookies on his birthday and New Balance running sneaks for Father’s Day (he’s 87 – I’m an optimist). Since moving to NYC in 2003, I’ve kept in better touch with my folks than when I lived in their basement.
Some weeks back, my bro texted me the bad news: Popper had a heart attack. “What should I do,” I thought. “How bad is it? Will he live? Do I fly home?” A quick call to Mom brought wisdom: he was in good hands. I’d go visit within a week, but for now, I’d sit tight.
Sitting tight proved to be tough. The emotions I’d faced that day weighed so heavily that I wrote him a letter. I never sent it, though I meant every word. In the weeks that have passed, several of my friends have lost their dads, some of them 20+ years younger than mine. I publish my letter to my dad and dedicate this post to those of you who have lost yours.
News of your heart attack this morning didn’t come as a surprise to me. You see, Dad, whatever happens, we have peace. We have sewn the fragments of our past together and healed from the hurt of my tormenting young-adult years.
During our uninterrupted week together in August, it was just you, mom and me. It didn’t cross my mind that those rare days could be our last: I could have moved back in and stayed forever. But if they are to be our last, I will cherish them as the sweetest days of my life. All grown up and honest with each other, we have become the best of friends. Confidantes of a certain kind. The kind that only exists between blood.
Redemption is beautiful. After all we’ve been through, being able to grow closer has given me a solid foundation for the future. I treasure that unconditional love and surety. You have shown me how to be earnest, steadfast, strong, resilient, brave and kind.
Thanks, Dad, for being a great teacher. Through your stories, silly jokes and your quiet sense of humor, I have learned to enjoy the simple things life has to offer. Like sneaking a cookie with my morning coffee. Or doodling stick figures on every piece of junk mail. Or watching birds eat mom’s homemade birdseed on the feeder (only to grab the BB gun and shoot that pesky squirrel who got too close)!
The love between you and mom is something I’ll always look up to as example of how I want to be with Stanley: trusting, loving, endearing, close, protective, tender, empathetic and all-encompassing.
You are amazing. I look forward to seeing you very soon.
With my heart and soul,
My dad is back to his old tricks. He goes to for walks, exercises at the gym and shovels the walk when it snows (and it’s been a snowy November in Minnesota). He celebrated his 87th birthday by taking a day’s roadtrip with my mom.