A letter to my dad

Dad, you’d be thrilled to see your grandchildren in action. The 4.93 year old can do a pirouette and remember the words to the Whole Foods Parking Lot rap! The 7.5 month old is crawling and standing up in his crib, and he’s getting his fifth tooth! I’m doing okay too. My book’s coming out sometime next year with Arthur A. Levine Books – Arthur’s a wonderful guy, you’d like him. My agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette, is equally wonderful, you’d like her too. In fact you’d like everyone at the Erin Murphy Literary Agency – it’s a remarkably warm and welcoming group. I feel so attached to them already! I get to work with the best people, I’ve made some new friends, and for the first time in my entire life I feel like I may have found my calling. I know how doubtful my prospects for doing that have seemed at times, but I think it’s happening now.

I can’t go back and change the past, though, no matter how much I might want to. I was a terrible son. I hurt you on more than one occasion, either through blind, lashing anger or thoughtless indifference, and I don’t know that either of those is less destructive a reason than the other. It’s far, far too late, and it doesn’t mean much (if anything) to say it now, but I’m sorry.

I can’t really make it up to you by trying to be a good dad, can I? I don’t think it works that way. I am trying, though. It’s kind of easy to try, actually – they’re such great kids, Dad! They’re so funny, both of them! And smart, and creative, and affectionate, and happy, and full of life…you’d love them, and they’d love you. We have one of each, a girl and a boy, and they love each other! It’s astonishing, wonderful, miraculous – they bring me such joy. I’m incredibly tired every single minute of the day, but I’m so happy that they’re here with us. I love them so much, and I think I have you to thank for how easy it is to love them, because I’ve never forgotten your obvious, overflowing love for kids. It always showed. Cousin Sandy has the best story about how you were there for her after Tom’s birth, when she was feeling so sad and lonely and left to her own devices.

It’s been a few years now since you passed on, and the pain of your departure has been rounded and softened by the passage of time, but it’s still there. And it has its flipside, of course. I’m horrendously sad that you can’t be here to talk to and play with your grandchildren, but that’s because I know how much love you would shower them with, and I also know that there still is a path your love can pass through to reach them. The path runs through me, of course.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I know it’s good that you’re no longer in pain, struggling along in a state of physical diminishment and emotional hardship. You’re at peace, and that’s for the best. But I still miss you, and I wish you were here.

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7 thoughts on “A letter to my dad

  1. You most certainly can connect with your dad by being a wonderful dad, writer and friend. He must be so proud of not only who you’ve become, but of the journey you had to go through to get there. I miss my dad too and wish that he could be here with my kids. I try to always look at that silver lining that comes with loss and if he hadn’t left me, I don’t think I’d be a writer right now. I believe he’s still doing the things that all the best dad’s do–giving the best of himself to his kids along the way. Can’t wait to meet you face to face in LA–you feel like a friend Mike. The kind of friend your dad would be very proud of.

  2. “I can’t really make it up to you by trying to be a good dad, can I? I don’t think it works that way.”
    Yes, it does work that way, Mike. The only way one can really repay the people who have been good to you is to pass it on. For all you know, your dad got exactly the son he needed to teach him what he needed to learn, just as you got the exact dad you needed for who you were.

  3. Sniff, sniff. I lost my mother before I had kids and so wished she could see her granddaughters. Like you I know she would have loved them. She also would have been thrilled about my writing.

  4. Mike, I just read this today at the marina wifi room, trying to think of the right book for your birthday. It is so simple and direct and I know he would be thrilled to have a son who is such a fabulous guy.

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