As Father’s Day nears and the knowledge I cannot be with you settles into my mind, I have taken a moment to write to you.
I have written these lines to show you the person I have become because of you.
I am not perfect. I am not above reproach. But, every imprint you have left on my heart has made me better, stronger and more in awe of all that you are.
This is all because you love me:
I have never remained unchanged.
I have traveled the world and seen hundreds of foreign lands in the span of 20 years. Each city altered my character and nurtured my soul toward growth.
You, with your Frommer’s Travel Guide, were bent on teaching me all there was to know about the monks of Montserrat, the origin of Neuschwanstein Castle, the structural magnificence of the Statue of David.
I have been immersed in cultures I once read of in historical fictions, and I never anticipated garnering the truth of the “other.”
Yet, we walked those cobblestone alleyways; we ate those European delicacies, and I befriended the idea that anything is possible.
I dance in every driveway.
I hear Marvin Gaye rising in the confines of your car, “Heard it Through the Grapevine” amplified by your enthusiasm, and I can picture us there just before you pull into the garage.
I see you stepping out of the car in your suit and silk tie, opening the door for me in my 13-year-old mortification and twirling us both into the early grooves of a Texas summer.
You crack your wide smile, and your hands bounce in the air beside your shoulders.
You provoke fits of laughter until Mom appears in all her bombshell glory, until we’re the family the neighbors loathe.
I have never known the agony of self-doubt.
I come to you, torpedoing through your meticulous day, disrupting your work and making you furrow your brow for a canvas on which to splatter my thoughts.
You do not tolerate deprecation, and you have trained my mind to recognize the value I hold as a human being.
My faults are beauty marks to your eye, and as a result, I have never looked upon my reflection with shame. All I see is hope.
I make pancakes on Saturdays.
Or, at the very least, I attempt to make pancakes on Saturdays.
I do it because it’s tradition. I do it because you sat a plate of them in front of me when you taught me to whistle, when you quizzed me with hundreds of flashcards and when you told me to eat my fruit and then caught me tossing them behind the ficus.
The smell of them in my tiny apartment is the most I can have of you on short notice, even though they’re often burnt. I drive home anyway because you’re waiting with another batch.
I have never felt the need to be in a relationship.
I have never been crippled by loneliness or by the desire to be completed by another. I do not and will never understand this way of thinking.
When I wake up each morning, I am a whole person. That is entirely enough for me to live a joyful life and to possess complete faith in my capabilities.
Thank you, Dad — I cannot say that enough — for teaching me the beauty of aloneness and pure love of self.
I try to be a good friend.
I seek out the same sense of loyalty, integrity and morality I find in you in the people around me. It seems more often than not I fail in this endeavor.
And I run to you, hands in my hair, posing every question concerning human nature because I cannot contemplate why those attributes are so hard to find.
The answer is simple; it always has been. You’re the best friend I’ve ever known, to me and to all who walk into your life.
I am seeking you out in a sea of strangers, and I will always be disappointed. You set the standard too high.
So, if you haven’t already grasped my meaning, Daddy, I’ll lay it before you now: As I grow older, as it becomes harder to laugh in the midst of sorrow, I will think of you.
When I dare to question all that I am, I will remember to whom I once belonged. When the world tries and fails to beat me down, withhold my fate and harden my heart, I will smile in cheers to you.
I will love because you have loved me.