A Heartfelt Letter to My Dad
Life was not always a bowl of cherries. There were good times and bad. My life memories are a whole lot clearer today.
Dad, there are so many things I wish to tell you so lets start
From the beginning….
I remember the bench at the Southern Railroad train station when I was 5 or so. My mother and me left you. You had a fight and we were headed back to mama and granddaddy’s house. You came and got us before the train pulled in. I know it was love that brought you there.
That burn scar on your hand from that iron. I saw it happen. I felt bad. You should know that it was traumatizing for me to see at age 6. I remember it like it was yesterday.
I heard, though not confirmed, that you escaped Vietnam. The war ended and instead the military orders changed and you were off to officer’s candidate training. Being a military brat wasn’t so so bad. Only thing is that I am not graced with childhood friends. I’ve gotten over that (sort of).
Army life, infantry was it? I was so proud to be the daughter of an officer. It didn’t matter about the bombings we went through in Heidelberg, Germany. You may not have know that we prepared in school for those. Instead of fire drills, we had special drills in case of a bomb during school hours. Yes, I remember but I still wouldn’t trade my experiences living abroad. You gave me that.
And Dad you should also know….
That your arguments frightened me terribly. I never knew if someone would be dead or alive in the morning. We all woke up and are here today so enough about that.
I admired you for going after your dream despite turmoil, unhappiness and sometimes defeat. Your calling for the ministry was strong and sincere. So much so that you picked your studies up after your tour of duty years later. I remember when you enrolled into ITC (Interdenominational Theological Center) for a second time when we made it back to Atlanta in the mid-70s.
True confessions while I’m talking about the holy cloth, as a preacher’s kid, I have to tell you a funny memory though wasn’t funny then. I had a boy over when you and mom went to the movies one evening. Problem was you came home early and thanks to our downstairs neighbor’s chatter box, we were able to get clothed and get him out before the key turned in the door knob (Ha! Sorry :o). By the way, I made him jump off our second floor balcony. I told him to basically pick his poison, either die brutally or suffer a couple of broken bones. He jumped and to my amazement was unharmed. LOL
For your dedication to our family. I saw you go to work for Eastern Airlines by night and school by day.
I’m glad that the research paper I wrote for you received a good grade *as I dust my shoulders off”. It was the least I could do as an 11th grader writing a grad school paper. You’re welcomed.
Dad, I was there…
When you left and when the divorce was final. I understood why. It was also the time when things were made clear that you adopted me and called me your own. Thank you.
We all have things we are not proud of and I know you do but you overcame your shortcomings as we all try to do.
On another note, I want you know that when you became very ill, I was scared to death. I watched you get sicker and sicker in that hospital on Cleveland Ave, Atlanta. The doctors could not find what was making you ill. Then one day you were well again. I realized then that you could have been gone forever so I’m writing you today because tomorrow is not promised.
After you left, I was in flux and confused as to what I do with my life. I took a long look at my childhood and decided that I wanted to be in a place not to be found. You helped me accomplish that and you didn’t know it at the time. That’s the thing about you working for the airlines, you got me a round trip ticket and I left on a jet plane like a thief in the night. Well, not exactly, I had to spend the night at the airport because I was being hunted. The trail went cold at Hartsfield Jackson. Little did you know that I was headed to Washington, D.C. I apologize but loved my mini vacay.
I was disturbed by your second wife but I do appreciate her agreeing to give me a place to lay my head when I finally surfaced. I can’t help but to let you know that the experience reminded me of Cinderella and her mean stepmother and stepsisters. I was Cinderella. That is all.
Just so you know, I approve wholeheartedly and unequivocally of my current stepmother. She is a caring, Godly soul and not that you asked my opinion but I feel you made the right decision. I was proud to stand in for your mother who could not share with me your happiness. She had already gone to heaven.
Over time there are a few things that have disappointed me and I feel you should know.
I never felt the love of my grandmother (your mother); however, I am not utterly bitter because I know I was not “joined to her by the blood”. She gets a pass may she continue to rest in peace.
I am saddened occasionally that my daughter did not fully have the attention of her maternal grandparents. It gets a little overwhelming sometimes when I see how you dote over the younger grandchildren. To be fair, that’s not totally your fault but it was noteworthy.
Dad, please bare with me….
Because as I have grown older I have become wiser and I try a little harder to keep in mind that I have a family that loves me. When I don’t act like loving daughters typically act, understand that showing affection towards my parents is most difficult. Why? Because, throughout my childhood and teen years, I did not coexist with a loving, affectionate family. I lived through bitterness, cruelty and above all unhappiness that has presented me with a block of sort. You were a gentle soul though.
Receiving gifts is also difficult. You see, when I left home back then, I promised myself I would never, ever ask for a single thing just as I never did the majority of my life. So, at the time of this writing, for 34 years since my 18th birthday, I never, ever did. It is liberating yet sad and is why I don’t really know how to act when I’m presented with a gift from my parents and sometimes from others.
So Dad in closing….
We are a work in progress. I want you to know that I forgive you; I appreciate what you have done for me; I thank you; and I love you.