Hi, Daddy. I hope that your day is going well.
I miss you and often wonder what our relationship would be like today if cancer hadn’t taken you away from me in 1989. It has been 27.5 years since I have heard your voice. You passed away after months of being too weak to focus on anything other than your illness. The time slipped away quicker than I could have imagined.
In the midst of my everyday doings, I know that you are always on the periphery, watching, and smiling at me. It’s easy for me to speak of you now in the contemporary as if you are here with me.
I don’t think that I have told you how much I love you! I hope that my behavior speaks for me; the saying ‘actions speak louder than words’ ring truer to me now more than ever.
You are my #1 supporter and encourager; you were always in my corner cheering me on in your own unique way. You ensured that I knew how you felt about me and I want you to know how much your dedication to my well-being meant to me. Please know that my silence had no bearing on how much I appreciated you, even when home may not have been where the heart was.
I remember when you and my mother were experiencing difficulties in your marriage and our home life seemed more like a battlefield than a place of refuge. I don’t assume to understand the private affairs between you two as husband and wife—nor can I fathom the intricacies of your relationship—but I can say that in the midst of her anger and frustration and your sadness, you maintained your composure. I often wondered, why didn’t you fight back? How did you manage to keep your cool?
As I reminisce, maybe it was it your faith. Growing up, I was aware of your spiritual beliefs and remember seeing you read your leather-bound Bible from time to time. Maybe the scriptures guided you. In the Bible, there were stories of contention, strife, and family drama, so it is possible that you found strength there, steadying your resolve and laying the foundation for your moral compass. Now that I am a grown woman and have experienced my share of relationship ups and downs I know that it wasn’t easy for you. However, I can understand why you did not react in kind, and most importantly, you did not abandon your family.
You are the calm in the center of the storm.
I know that you were not perfect and that you did your best to guide and raise my sister and me. Girls can be a challenge: the emotional, hormonal, and physical changes that occur on the path to womanhood were counterintuitive to your male psyche. But I remember you were open and available to give us what we needed as our lives and bodies began to change (if we needed money for ‘feminine hygiene products’ you would ask “Do they sell them 40 in a pack,” implying we should buy in bulk! More for the next time because, undoubtedly, there will be a next time!
I also want to thank you for making yourself available to meet and get to know the guys that I dated – or shall I say, those that we actually brought home. I would be lying if I said that you approved of and met every boy. I think those that truly mattered to us mattered to you, as well, so you were open to a conversation with them to see what they were about and gauge their intentions. If you didn’t like them, you definitely let it be known.
I want you to know that I am very thankful for how you handled your disappointment with us. We weren’t perfect, either. We made many mistakes but you were always there to provide your wisdom (‘keep your nose clean’), shelter when our intimate lives were rocky, and financial support when our quests for independence fell short a few dollars. I know, you’re thinking, “That’s what a parent is supposed to do.” Yes, that is what a parent is supposed to do. However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t thank you for your responsibility or make note of your patience, kindness, ever-presence and stability. You weren’t harsh or intimidating and I knew that your discipline was cloaked in love and your insistence was wrapped in the certainty that whatever you said, I know that my best interest was in your heart. I know that it wasn’t easy to navigate the myriad of issues and questions that go hand-in-hand when raising daughters, but somehow, you made it work. You made it look easy.
I think that I have spent my adult life hoping that every man I met or was in a relationship with would somehow mirror your stature and integrity, and I realize now that you were one of a kind. I know no two people are alike, so it’s silly of me to think someone would match your demeanor. One thing is certain: Any man who comes into my life he has pretty big shoes to fill. In my share of relationships, each guy was different and brought their own charisma, swagger, and quirks to the relationship. I know that as a parent, you were hardwired to be open and vulnerable to your child’s wants and needs, so I do accept that my expectations might be a bit skewed.
I recognize and appreciate that I may sound like the proverbial mourner who speaks well of those who are deceased. I do hope that my words today shine a light on the immense love and reverence for and to you when you were here, flesh and bone.
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