A Letter to My Dad

Dear Dad,

Though it’s reckless to assume, I think I’m probably safe thinking that there’s nothing I could get you for Father’s Day that you really need. And, knowing your penchant for instant gratification, there are probably very few things that you even want. So, instead of buying you something lavish, I thought I’d give you something free: my thanks, my admiration, and my love.

As a father now myself, I often find myself standing in your shoes, saying your words, teaching your lessons. And I know in my heart that — for better or worse — I’m primarily a near carbon copy. I’m filled to the point of overflowing with love for these kids, and I can only imagine the heartache ahead. Very much, I suspect, like the heartache I’ve caused you and Mom over the years. I don’t mean the big things. I think the big things — the car accidents, the injuries, the trouble with authorities — those things quickly fade. I’m beginning to see that the bigger heartaches are caused by all the little things. The late nights, the stupid decisions, the mistakes, the uncanny and idiotic need to learn on my own terms…

My God — how you and Mom must have fretted over the smallest of details! “Will he ever take anything seriously? Will he ever truly apply himself? Will he ever use the gifts God has given him? Will he ever find a girl the caliber of his mother?” I can imagine the multitude of questions, mainly because I’ve already begun asking versions of them myself.

I know I’ve made you proud, mainly because you’ve told me so, and because pride is innate. I’m already proud of Lily and Jack, for everything they do, every day. I’m proud when they accomplish something, but I’m just as proud when they wake up and face a new day with renewed spirit and a positive attitude. Yet another of your lessons I’ve already begun teaching: choose your attitude, choose your demeanor. And, as often as possible, choose joy.

I introduced Char to a friend of mind last Sunday. As I turned to talk to someone standing next to me, I heard him say to her, “He’s a good man.” Such a simple statement, but one that carries a lot of weight with me. All my life, without exception, whenever I meet anyone who knows you, they always say the same about you. “He’s a good man.” “Yes, he is,” my inevitable response. Such a simple goal, and so hard to attain. But in the end, I realize that this is the only lesson that really matters. This is what I’m trying to teach my kids: Be a good person. Do the right thing. Take care of each other.

How fast and fleeting are these days; this life. I’m still that boy of five, sitting outside hammering on a block of wood… I’m still that boy of ten playing kick the can throughout the neighborhood… I’m still that boy of twelve carrying your golf clubs… Still that boy of fourteen running back to the cabin with someone else’s fish! I’m still the boy who joined the Navy, went off to boot camp, and cried at how much I missed my family… I’m still the man who got commissioned as an officer and saluted my Dad. I salute you still.

Thank you, Dad. For all the lessons through all the years. For loving me enough to be impatient, for being hard to please, for expecting more and teaching me to expect more of myself. I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it.

Thank you for encouraging me to aim high. To learn from my mistakes and — eventually — even learn from the mistakes of others! Thank you for finding and loving my Mother. Thank you for your laughter, your (our) weird sense of humor, and for teaching us all that “a wet bird never flies at night.”

And thank you for your service to our country and your myriad of sacrifices for all of us.

Most of all, thank you for being you, and for providing such a great example of a good man to which I could aspire. I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Hugs to Mom.

9 Comments

  1. Beautifully written Jim. Very few ppl understand what their parents have gone through for their kids and nowadays, whenever I get the chance, I make sure my parents know how much I love them. :)Ajay

  2. My son Jim: Thank you so much for all of those feelings, thoughts and the expression of them. Much of what I feel right now will go unsaid because I am not able to say exactly what I want to or think that I should or etc. But you know that I love you and that I am proud of your accomplishments. Your choice of a bride was a great one. You have grown, you did listen, even when I thought you didn’t. Your family is precious and it is gratifying to me that you know it. I am sure that you are aware that the greatest influence in my life has been your mother. My mother comes in a close second and yet, I am so like my father.As I sat on the back porch tonight, waiting for the barbeque, I gave thanks for my life and all that God has provided me. A great wife, four wonderful daughters, and at last, a son.Thank you for all that you are,Love, Dad

  3. Jimmy, you bring tears to my eyes. I agree, your father is a good man. It was my pleasure and joy to grow up with your family. Much joy this father’s Day. Lib

  4. contrary1@gmail.com June 16, 2006 at 11:50 pm

    wonderfully said. made me miss my Dad, but I did have all the time to tell him some of the very things you just did to your Dad. i would have hated to feel regret for things unsaid.

  5. Hi, I’m here via Blogexplosion.I read this post and I felt choked! A strangers words have touched me and deeply. How proud you and your father are of each other! It’s wonderful to see it.The post is written exceptionally well and reads beautifully. I just wanted you to know that.Have a great day.

  6. JimYou are such a wonderful man and as your oldest sister, I really look up to you and the man that you have become. You are SO much like our Father, and I am so happy to say, that you have cloned yourself in your son, Jack.You have so much to look forward too! Happy Father’s Day Brother!!Always~Carly

  7. thinkoffthefat June 22, 2006 at 2:33 am

    Congratulations on a loving family. The love for each other has brought tears to my eyes. What a Blessing for you all. It will be the memories and past love shared that will comfort you all in the passing away of a family member. Keep the love lights burning. God Bless you and what a touching post to your Dad, then he responds, I’m going to cry again. Nothing beats love!

  8. .I read this post and I felt choked! A strangers words have touched me and deeply. How proud you and your father are of each other! It’s wonderful to see it.The post is written exceptionally well and reads beautifully. I just wanted you to know that.Have a great day.Congratulations on a loving family. The love for each other has brought tears to my eyes. What a Blessing for you all. It will be the memories and past love shared that will comfort you all in the passing away of a family member. Keep the love lights burning. God Bless you and what a touching post to your Dad, then he responds, I’m going to cry again. Nothing beats love

  9. Thanks, Kaitlyn. I appreciate your comments.

    Warmly, Jim

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