Since this letter was originally published on Father’s Day of 2015, my dad has passed away. I am republishing in honor of him, and as a reminder to always tell the people you love that you love them while they’re still around.
For some reason, dads tend to get a bad rep.
Mother’s Day will roll around and the praise and accolades are amazing, plentiful and consistent.
But on Father’s Day, you can hear about 10 crickets chirping, or worse yet, find your timelines awash with negative commentary about fathers who missed the mark.
Well, I’d like to help change that.
As you mature, you either come to appreciate the maternal and paternal figures in your life, feel hurt and pain for them not being around or you feel nothing at all towards them.
I’m lucky enough to be able to say that I’ve had both of my parents around for my entire life. Through all of the joys, pains, tears and disappointments, they’ve been there. I’m not going to pretend like it’s been all roses, especially when it comes to me and my dad. But what I can say is that he did the best that he could with what he had.
Yet and still, I’ve always had trouble communicating how I feel to my dad verbally. I’ll give him hugs, run errands with him, get him a nice gift for Father’s Day and cook him food, but when it comes to saying “I love you,” it’s always been tough.
Why? I don’t know.
And while it may be simple for some, I have to take to drastic measures, like writing my dad a public letter in an effort to verbalize my affinity for him. Yes I realize that writing a letter still isn’t verbalizing, but it’s a step closer, so bear with me.
As I grow older, I start to appreciate you more and more. From our days of riding around on the “Low End” (the northern part of Chicago’s South Side), to you teaching me how to shoot dice at 12 “so I’ll never be broke,” you made sure that I had everything that I needed. No, we didn’t grow up in a fancy big house in the suburbs. No, you weren’t a corporate boss nor did you drive an expensive car. In fact, the odd jobs you had made me feel like we’d barely make it sometimes. But you gave me something that was priceless: common sense and street knowledge.
With a dad like you, I feel like I grew up having the best of both worlds. Not many can say that they have a vast knowledge of the street life in addition to the traditional educational background. Granted, mom would have flipped if she’d known the things you were teaching me at such a young age, but I thank you for the lessons. While most of my peers were either reeling from their father’s absence or being sheltered due to overprotective parents, you trusted that I learned the lessons taught to me and granted me freedom. By the time I was 15, I could come and go almost as I pleased, and you and mom knew that I was going to do exactly what I said I was going to do. Call it overconfidence, but dammit it worked.
All of what I’ve learned from you, I’ve been able to apply to my life at some point. While I learned those lessons on my own, I still credit you for exposing your raw, true, authentic self, flaws and all for me to observe and learn from.
I could go on and on about all of what I’ve learned from you, but the article would be way too long to read. Let’s just say that you being part of my life for the last 30 years is like my own personal PhD. program on life.
I love you dad.
Happy Father’s Day!
Continue to rest in peace.