Writer Austin Hodgens did the best, most natural thing a son could do to honor his father’s legacy—he wrote a letter.
While I know a tie is the more traditional Father’s Day gift, I thought I’d try something different this year. Besides, your tie collection is the ugliest I’ve ever seen, and the world could use a little beauty right now.
Your only son is a writer, so it makes sense that my present to you is something you can read, rather than wear. I’ve decided to compose a letter, which is something of a lost art in this social media-crazed age, to update you on my life and let you know how important you are to me.
They’ve given me my own weekly column on The Good Men Project, which helps my writing reach an entirely new audience. I’m proud to be associated with such a site, and if I’m a good man, it’s because you raised me right.
Thank you for always supporting my dream to be a writer, and never pressuring me to pick a more stable career. You stood behind my decision to go to NYU Film School when others protested that it was too risky, and that gave a nervous seventeen-year-old a much-needed confidence boost.
Even though I knew early on what I wanted to do professionally, I also grew up wanting to be more like you. Where I was so shy and introverted, you were incredibly outgoing and always happy. The only time you were ever without a smile on your face was when you were eating, which made perfect sense given that many of those meals were prepared by me.
I turned to writing because I didn’t know how to fit in with people, but secretly wished I could follow your lead and feel perfectly at ease in any situation. I’ve made substantial progress over the last few months at being more comfortable in social settings, but I don’t think I’ll ever be as charming as my Dear Old Dad.
However, some of your charm apparently found its way to me because I’ve miraculously managed to get the most amazing woman I’ve ever met to fall in love with me.
You’d love her, Dad. Not only is she sweet, smart, funny, beautiful, and incredibly patient (which she’d have to be to put up with me), but she’s also Irish. Not the kind of Irish where her grandparents came to America in search of a better version of football, but the kind of Irish where she was actually born in Ireland and grew up dancing in fields of clover.
She has gorgeous green eyes, adorable freckles, and an enchanting accent that drives me wild. She says uniquely Irish things in that brogue such as “stop acting the maggot,” “what’s the craic?” and “let’s go drive on the left-hand side of the road!”
I’ve explained to her countless times that we’re Irish, but she keeps insisting that we just have Irish heritage. She demands to know who in our family is from Ireland, and when I can’t provide names, she scoffs and calls me a silly American.
I love her, Dad, but she just doesn’t get it. I wish you could talk some sense into her and make her realize that we’re just as Irish as she is.
I’ve never told you this, but I’d all but given up on having children after my divorce. Now, all I can think about is having a family of beautiful Irish babies with Brooklyn accents. I’m just a little older than you were when I was born, and I can’t wait to follow in your fatherly footsteps.
Those are huge shoes to fill, but I’m up to the task. I love a challenge, and your grandchildren deserve a father as wonderful as the one who raised me.
It’s very important to me to carry on our family name, and now I am extremely confident that there will be a whole new generation of Hodgens children raising havoc in the not so distant future.
There is one bit of bad news that I need to share, though. Your future daughter-in-law is not at all keen on there being an Austin the Third hanging from this family tree. She said it would make him sound like one sequel too many in a once proud movie franchise.
She has agreed, however, that our son will honor his Grandfather by having Austin as a middle name. I hope you’re okay with that compromise. I’d fight harder for the name, Dad, but do you have any idea how stubborn a woman from Dublin can be once she’s made up her mind about something?
The main reason I’m so eager to be a dad is because I want to raise my children like you raised me. I might not have your outgoing disposition or perpetual smile, but I’m confident I have inherited your World’s Greatest Dad genes.
I don’t think I’ve told you enough how great of a Dad you are, but it’s left a lasting impression that has had me longing for membership in the fatherhood fraternity for decades.
I can only hope that when the time finally comes to welcome your grandchildren into this world, I am up to the task of carrying on your legacy. I learned from the best and now I want to put everything you ever taught me to use on my offspring.
Another thing I hope for when your grandchildren arrive is that they look like their mother. No offense, Dad, but you didn’t exactly pass along the best looks. Thankfully, half of their genetic makeup will be exponentially superior to mine in that department.
As difficult as it might be to believe, I wouldn’t mind if the horrible sense of style I inherited from you gets passed down to the next generation. Whenever I look back at those cringe-worthy photos of me dressed in the hideous outfits you bought after Mom died, I smile because it makes me feel close to you.
It couldn’t have been easy to raise a three-year-old and a two-year-old all by yourself after losing your wife, but you did it, and at least one of us turned out alright.
Sure, you might have dressed me like the Salvation Army was my official clothing sponsor, and you were never around to teach me how to play baseball because you were always working to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table, but that’s why you’re my hero.
As I excitedly look ahead to a future with the woman I love and a house filled with your grandchildren, I have two great wishes:
I wish that I can be the kind of father to my children that you have been to me.
I wish that you were still alive so your grandchildren could see for themselves why I love you so much.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I miss you.
Thank you for being the ultimate good man and inspiring me to want to be just like you.
Photo: U.S. Army/Flickr
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