I know this out of the ordinary for my oft neglected blog, but it is what I feel to do. This a letter to my earthly father. I am not posting it as an attempt to impress anyone with the writing of it, that would be a sad thing indeed as I am a very poor writer. I am posting it as a public declaration with the hope of honoring my father. We all carry on through our days so secure in the thought that we will be here tomorrow, that we have plenty of time to do and say all that we wish. Scripture tells us repeatedly this is not so.
James 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
Psalm 39:5 Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.
1 Peter 1:24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
Then there are times where we are made to realize that scripture speaks truth. I am in one of those times and am faced with the very certain reality that my father will not live forever. So it is with this in mind that I attempt to write him this letter. He does not have internet access and will not see this. I will provide him with the handwritten copy.
You do know that we are none guaranteed the next breath… Perhaps you have your own letter to write?
On to the letter.
I have desired to write this letter to tell you of things I have always felt, yet have neglected to say. Time truly flies by- we simply do not comprehend the truth and reality with scripture when it states that our lives are a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away. Yesterday I was a child holding your hand as we walked through the park, today I have grown children with families of their own. Where did the years in between go?
I want to let you know, Dad, that I am proud of you. I am thankful that I was given parents who loved, provided, and cared for me. In hindsight I have recognized some of the sacrifices you made over the years in providing for my brother and myself, I say some, because I am certain there were many more that I remain unaware of. One of the most important lessons I have learned and tried to imitate, is that you put family first, your wife and children were your center and I thank you for giving your self away in that.
I know that there have been times through the years where our relationship may not have been all that either of us wished it could be. I know that you probably feel you made mistakes, I know that there are/have been situations that I could have handled better. I want you to know that if there is anything you regret, or feel that you may have done wrong against me, whatever it is or may be was long ago forgiven and forgotten. There is nothing that you may have done, or thought you did, nothing that you did not do that I hold against you. You are my father and I love you and I release you from anything of that sort.
I hope to share with you in this letter just a small portion of the things you have given or taught me over the years. Silly things perhaps, but important to me none-the-less. I remember you teaching me to tie my shoes and in that moment you began to instill in me self-reliance, a lesson that you still continue to teach me. Early memories like, making certain the wash cloth is sudsy so that I could properly bathe, brushing my teeth, “up and down”. Watching you shave and wondering if I would be able to do that some day, and you giving me a razor with no blade to join you then. I can recall seeing you doing push-ups and calisthenics which instilled in me a strong sense of maintaining good health through regular exercise. I remember the times we would spend outside where you taught me to appreciate the outdoors. You taught me a love and respect for nature that I still hold today. I can remember the times we would just sit in the grass and take sticks and twigs and spend hours building miniature forts. Oh, Dad you do not know the joy contained in these memories! And yet, I barely scratch the surface.
I have such a fondness for drawing, and sculpting and all sorts of arts, (which I now use to provide for my family) and I know these sensibilities had their beginning in your subtle encouragement. I would watch with fascination as you drew and sketched, or baked cakes from scratch, or worked on the car- simple things, honest things. I am sure you are not aware of it, but I patterned my signature after yours as I so much wanted to be like my dad. You were and you are, my hero, my Father.
Dad I could go on and on calling forth and describing memories, as you have given me multitudes to draw from, a lifetime in fact- your own. I thank you.
I thank you for teaching me by your example how to love and respect women, as I grew up watching you love and respect my mother with tenderness and patience. Thank you for teaching me to be respectful to all people- to “do unto others as I would have them do unto me”, as I watched your willingness to lend a hand, even to those who had at some point, wronged you. I thank you Dad for instilling in me honesty, integrity, and courage by causing me to take responsibility for my actions and the consequences of them. Thank you for teaching me of patriotism and love for my country by your service to America in your voluntary enlistment during the Vietnam conflict, and your many years of service afterwards. Thank you for giving me these wonderful and priceless gifts that I will ever cling to. Your are and have been more than a role model in my life, Dad. You are my friend.
It was during my teenage years where your guidance shone with the most love and patience. I am aware, with much shame and regret, of the sorrows I inflicted upon you and Mom, yet at every opportunity you both made clear that you loved me. Every time I began to go down a path that would prove detrimental, you and Mom were there to guide me back to the right track. Even after I moved away you still freely offered counsel and direction. I realized later, (and continue to realize) how little I actually knew and how timely and appropriate your advice invariably was. Thank you Dad for seeing through that tough guy exterior who knew everything and was always “selling wolf tickets”.
Oh Dad, you have taught and given me so much. I wish I had the ability to write and expound precisely what is on my mind and within my heart, there is so much I want to say… Even now you teach me how to be a man.
I cannot express to you the utter joy that can barely be contained within me, over your surrendering your life to Jesus Christ. That beyond all others is a gift that will bring to me solace and peace. For I know that when we part from this temporal plane, we will be afforded an eternity with each other in the presence of our heavenly Father. And for that I am eternally grateful to God.
I know this letter is short and not very poetic, but it is an attempt to honestly declare how proud and honored I am to be your son.
I love you Dad.