Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Note to Dad

Hi Dad. Wherever you are, I hope you’re happy. I’m not sure if there is a heaven, but if there is, I know you’re helping somebody in need, like you did throughout your life.

Every Fathers Day, I get to wondering about the afterlife. What if the Buddhists are right about reincarnation? I could see you coming back as a single daffodil, picked by a small child who runs to her mommy with her, bringing a moment of happiness to both child and parent. If Einstein is right, then you belong to the universe. I like to choose one star out of the night sky and say hello to you. Sure, I know it’s really just a ball of burning hydrogen, but it makes me feel good to think that your essence, your love and all those memories, still exist in that bright spot in the sky.

I didn’t always think of you with such admiration. Your leather belt scared the hell out of me as a child. Discipline was swift and simple. You taught me right from wrong. And, I hated it when you and mom argued. It made me feel insecure. Even when I left for Vietnam in my late teens, you tried to hug me, but I pushed you away in my youthful anger. Guess I was still too young to appreciate you for the lessons that molded a man from a boy.

Before my twentieth birthday, something extraordinary happened. You changed. Wisdom filled your voice when I called you from the USO in Vietnam to share my fears. You said I'd be okay. Do you remember that three AM phone call? You told me you had great confidence in me, as a man, and that you would stand by me no matter what happened in Nam. Your strength, and your confidence in me, carried me through some tough times. I found strength knowing that you respected and trusted me. Then, I realized, you didn’t change a bit. I did, thanks to you.

I tried to apologize when I got home, for my stupid behavior before I left for Nam. You rebuffed my effort, saying no regrets were called for. Turns out, you had similar angst when you were young and it took you many years to grow up, too. You always knew the man I would become, because I am just like you. You saw my potential, instead of my failings, and you made me the man I am today.

Thanks, Dad.


  1. Thank you for sharing such a personal and heart-warming story. I lost my father when I was only twelve years old, but I remember his love and humor. You sound like you had a great father and teacher. You are the man he wanted you to be. Also, thank you for your service. Love and hugs! -- Kat

  2. Thank you, Kat. Twelve years old is a tender young age to lose your father. Judging from your age at the time, he couldn't have been a very old man. Do you mind if I ask what happened to him? My wife experienced the same kind of loss...her dad died of a massive heart attack at 49 years old while she was at school. Her biggest regret in life is that her dad never got to meet our kids or me. I was fortunate to resolve all my youthful BS with dad and enjoy him until he was 70.


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