Letters: For My Dad

Corvallis, Oregon

One year ago today my father passed away. It was sudden. He was 71. There was still a lot of life left in my dad when he died. Today is difficult, and will be even more so for my mother.

I will cry, I am crying now. Yet, what I want to do in this post, is to remember my dad as he lived.

Remember the times that he was there for me. The times that he stood for me, when I was lost. Lost inside of myself, and in the greater world.

Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

The first memories I have of my dad are of him in dress clothes, heading off to work. Work that he liked, and didn’t, yet went anyway, every day, because it was expected and needed. Expected of himself, by himself.

I remember the first time we played catch, which may sound awfully cliche, yet it was an important moment in my life. Knowing that my dad would make time to spend with me, regardless of other pressing priorities, was an important learning for me as a child.

A learning in dedication and love.

He loved movies. I remember watching all kinds of movies with him as a child, teengaer, and adult. Spending time with him. Talking with him about movies that were upcoming, getting excited, and sharing in that joy with him.

Photo by Georgia Vagim on Unsplash

And, yes, popcorn. I loved popcorn as a kid. We would also often add powdered parmesan cheese to the popcorn. Loved that.

I remember him bringing me home hot wheels once after work. Oh my. I was so excited.

The idea that he would take time to purchase something for me, think of me like that, made a huge impression on me.

He also loved music. One of the things I miss the most about my dad is hearing him play the guitar. Was lovely. Now, I often listen to the songs that he played most often. I feel very connected to him at these times.

Photo by Jefferson Santos on Unsplash

My dad loved people. Loved conversation. I learned so much from him about being with people. Though my dad was an extrovert, like me, he also had a large introvert living inside of him, also like me, and most of us.

He also loved to read. I remember wondering about what he was reading when I was little. I learned later in life that some of his reading included self-development books. Didn’t know that for a long time.

Now his only son’s professional career revolves around personal and professional development. Special.

The holidays were always a special time growing up. I still love them today. And, though he had to work sometimes, especially when my sisters and I were little, he always made time to put a bike together for us, even if that meant staying up super late after working all day.

Photo by Denise Johnson on Unsplash

I learned a lot from my dad about difficult conversations. I didn’t learn until later, that he would strategically engage me in these conversations. Why?

To help me grow and develop. Though it didn’t feel like it at the time, that is what love really looks like.

He also taught me that running from things that make you uncomfortable does no one any good. And, though I hid from that part of myself for a long time, it has resurfaced with wonder. I owe a piece of that part of myself to my dad.

As a teenager, my dad and I didn’t get along all that well. We were at odds often. Yet he was always there. Always. He never wavered in his dedication to his family.

My dad has a huge family, and he deeply loved all of his brothers and sisters, as he did his mother and father. Lots of love.

My dad would often talk about not having much growing up in Los Angeles. Helping me see and understand that appreciating what you have today, in this moment, is super important.

Olvera Street Plaza, Los Angeles

And, that when we want to create a new way forward, we must rely upon ourselves to do so. Though my dad didn’t always language his persistence and grit this way, he didn’t need to. He was a living example.

He also loved cars. Boy, did he. My dad and his brothers, usually his older brother, would go to car shows often. He loved to look at them, hear them, see them run, and to talk about them.

Photo by Terence Burke on Unsplash

His dedication and love for his family extended to his grandchildren, of which there are several. Our sons loved their grandpa, and they miss him. My dad would always make time to talk with his grandchildren, always. He loved them so much.

Flagstaff, Arizona

There are so many things I miss about my dad. So many. What is written here is but one brushstroke of the many brushstrokes that are a living painting that my dad created with his contributions, time, dedication, persistence, and love for life and his family.

My dad’s sudden death last year reminds me of the necessity for all of us to make sure to tell those people in our life how much they mean to us. To tell them we love them, and value them. And, most importantly to show them that love.

Maybe especially when that love might not look like love to them. Such an important learning from a father to his son. Important.

My dad and I didn’t always get along, even as an adult. Yet, what transcended those disagreements was the love that we shared for each other. A love that for most of my life went unspoken.

However, about two years ago I went through a transformative experience, and during that time I told him and my mother how much I appreciated and loved them. Not something that we really said to each other at all. What did he say?

He said, well, I love you too son. Wow. Was one of the most powerful moments in my life. Why?

Because though I knew that my father loved me, we didn’t really say it. And, I was actually nervous about telling him that I loved him. I am so glad that I made that call. So glad.

Now I am a father to two beautiful boys. I am one of the luckiest people on the planet to have been given this wonderful gift. As my dad was, I am so proud of both of them; and, I see so much of my dad in each of them. I love them more than words can possibly express.

I always miss my dad, and I miss him even more today. For all of those that my dad touched and loved, know that I am thinking about him and all of you today.

That I am with you in kindred spirit through the love that we shared for my father, and the love that he shared with us.

For everyone else reading this, thank you. Thank you for sharing a very special moment with me, on a very difficult day.

Love, live, and be well.

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