You’ve been gone now for about thirteen years. I lost you in an instant, and time has flown by since. When you died, the twins were not even a year old. Today, they are fourteen. You would be so proud of them and the adults they’re becoming. As a dad myself, now raising teenagers, I am experiencing the joy (and sometimes frustrations) that you must have felt raising me.
I laugh as I write that… I know the frustrations I caused you, and that there was no joy in our relationship for a time. I thought you were strict; you thought I was on a path to trouble. We were both right. You were stern, so much more stringent than the parents of my friends. And, just like you thought, I was on a path to trouble. You weren’t wrong about that. The rebel in me fought against your rules, and I broke them with no regard for what the consequences might be.
So, we fought.
I said things to you back then that embarrass me today. I’ve always said I’ve lived my life with no regrets, never looking back… the way I talked to you and treated you may be the exception to that. I regret the fights we got into and the moments where I told you I hated you.
You hung me out to dry a few times, and I am thankful that you did.
When I graduated high school, I moved out the next day. The apartment I landed in led to more challenges, and at eighteen, I left in a panic not telling anyone where I was going. Technically I didn’t run away, but I left everyone wondering where I was, including my boss at the time. When I finally came back, I tried to get back the job that I had abandoned. I begged to get that job back. Years later, I learned that the reason I didn’t get it was that you had told my boss not to give it to me. You knew there was a lesson I needed to learn.
And I did learn those lessons. Your version of being there for me sometimes included stepping away and letting me face harsh consequences. It hurt at the time, but it turned me into the man I am today.
You taught me to own my actions.
When I found my way again, like the prodigal son, I begged to come back home. You welcomed me back with open arms. Through everything, you never gave up on me or stopped loving me. You were happy when I turned things around, and you did everything you could to walk beside me on my journey.
Thank you for that.
I wish we could go to lunch one more time. I wish we could sit at McRudy’s one more time, grab one more lunch special, and talk about nothing and everything all at once. I wish you would call me one more time to tell me the latest high school basketball scores. I wish I could call you and talk about what it feels like to own a business. I wish you could see your grandkids and meet Cristina. You would love her just like I do. I wish you could be here to see how strong mom is as she’s navigating life without you.
I wish you were still here.
It’s Father’s Day today, and it sucks that you’re gone. I wish you could see me today as a dad, trying to navigate all the same things you experienced with me. I’m doing my best, dad. I’m trying to honor the legacy you left and love my kids the way you loved me, unconditionally. I’m hustling to provide and to make sure everyone has everything they need and want. I’m working hard to love Cristina like you loved mom. I’m doing my best, with your sons, to take care of mom… she’s stubborn, by the way.
Dad, thank you for the example you gave me. Thank you for adopting me and giving me a home. Thank you for working so hard for our family.
Thank you, Dad, for being my dad.