A Day to Remember: Letter to Dad

Happy birthday, Dad. 

You would have been eighty-four today. 
Things have changed since you left us, over five years ago.  You were right!  There would be another.  Our son was born, bearing your name, in September of 2010.  He is a happy, exuberant, loving little guy who shares your taste in food (nothing fancy) and music (Lawrence Welk).  He hasn’t discovered Gunga Din or James Bond yet, but time will tell.
I wish you could see him play with his trains and read his books.  Throw little fits, then give kisses and hugs.  Reveal an ear-to-ear smile that lights up the room.  Tackle anything that will stand still, including the cat.  Share a fleeting moment of love with Big Sister.
And speaking of Big Sister, you’d be enamored.  The bouncy curls and baby face have been replaced by long, lean limbs, chestnut-colored hair, and a straight-toothed smile that would knock your socks off.  Instead of horsey rides on your lap, she’d be keen to show you her cartwheel, backbend or latest doll.
The children don’t resemble me much, physically.  But I do see a glimmer of myself in their personalities, especially Big Sister.  Her tentative and shy demeanor when she doesn’t know someone well.  Her sensitivity.  Her preference to spend time with a select few, rather than running with the mob.  Her ability to become lost in her own world, playing with dolls, pretending and dreaming big. 
She is fortunate to have a father like Husband.  He is a lot like you in many ways.  I watch them together and think of us so often.
As I write this, I am struck by how different I am without you.  There is so much that I miss:  your voice, your eyes, your touch.  I grasp at them in my dreams, but they slip through my fingers, and I’m always left wanting more.
I know that I’ll never hear your voice in the house when I return home for holidays.  I’ll never see “Dear Tootsie” scrawled on your thick, white letterhead, with instructions about car insurance or advice about my problem-du-jour. 
I rejoice that you existed in an age before email, and I have actual letters, with your handwriting, to keep.  I hold these letters dear, and I re-read them often.
A part of me was lost when you left us.  The ground doesn’t seem as steady without you looking over my shoulder.  But I think that allows me the gift of discernment and empathy towards others who may be grieving. 
I think you would be proud of me.
Today I celebrate your life, the integrity with which you lived it, and the lives you touched along the way.  You did not do newsworthy, great deeds, according to our world.  You were a simple and humble man.  But you loved your daughter, in the best way you knew how, and the magnitude of that can never be understated.
I will never stop missing you, remembering you and loving you, Dad.
Love,
Tootsie* (Chin up, shoulders back!)
 

Comments

  1. Yes, yes I am crying at work looking at that photo and thinking of the handwritten letters. You are such a great writer.

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    1. Aw, sorry to make you cry at work! Thank you for the kind compliment.

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  2. beautiful. it's hard moving on, but we take them with us.

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    1. Thank you so much. Yes, we do take them with us, don't we?

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  3. Love the handwritten letters. We should make the effort to leave some for our children too even though it is no longer the primary form of communication. I'm sorry your dad is gone.

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    1. Totally agree. Am going to start writing letters to my kids! Thank you for the sentiment.

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  4. This is so beautiful. I love that your son carries your father's name, and that you have the letters as a tangible reminder of what sounds like a wonderful relationship.

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    1. Thank you, Samantha! Our relationship wasn't perfect, but it was as good as it could be or needed to be.

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    1. Thank you, Susannah! Enjoyed your piece on your father, as well.

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  6. Moving post. I can relate too. It's hard not to wonder what life would've been like if...

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    1. Thank you, Linda. I am thankful to have had him for as long as I did. But I still miss him and wonder.

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  7. My dad loved Gunga Din and James Bond too. I think about how proud he would have been of his grandsons, now nearly grown. You did a great job describing your dad.

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    1. Thank you, Marcy. I like to believe that they can still "see" us and our children.

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  8. What a wonderful letter and tribute to your father. You're right, he would be proud of you. Happy birthday to your old man!

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  9. Oh, wonderful! I'm so glad that you had an awesome father who wrote you lovely things that you get to keep forever. Yay!

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  10. My grandfather loved Gunga DIn, too! Your love for your Dad shows through here.

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    1. I feel like I need to go back and watch it again, in his honor!

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  11. I'm sitting here in tears, for you, for me, for all the daughters and sons who have lost our fathers.

    What a beautiful tribute! Your rather would be honored and proud of you, your family and your writing talent. Hugs to you!

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    1. Thank you, Kathleen! I feel like those of us who've lost a parent are in some kind of secret club. We all know what each other is feeling, but no one talks about it much. Thanks for the kind words.

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  12. I love old handwritten letters. I have many saved, from a history of my family a granduncle wrote out, to the updates my grandma used to send to my mom. They are special in a way pictures are not.
    Thank you for sharing this

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    1. So true! Pictures are special, but there is something more personal about the letters.

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  13. This is precisely why I love hand written letters. I re-read and re-read. It's as if that person is still present somehow. I love how you talk about your father and that he called you "Tootsie" just warms my heart! My husband is getting ready to lose his father (won't be too, too long) so this touched me especially right now. Beautiful tribute!

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    1. Thank, Gina! I'm sorry to hear about your family's impending loss. It is never easy.

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  14. Simply gorgeous. Thank you for sharing this with us.

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  15. I just received a couple of handwritten cards from my dad in the mail...but his handwriting is atrocious! Your dad's handwriting is beautiful!

    My mom would be 70 now, and I wish she were here to see her grandbabies grow up.

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    1. It is hard when our kids don't know them, isn't it? Sorry you are without your mom!!

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  16. your beautiful letter has me in tears. I am a letter saver too and have saved emails from my dad dating back to 2001. I still have him for now and call more now than I email.

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    1. Oh, I'm so glad you still have your dad! Treasure every phone call! Thanks for reading, Robbie.

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  17. Oh, just lovely, tender and touching.

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