Thursday, November 30, 2017

Dead Letter Office

Dear Dad,

I was scrounging through some old papers and stuff the other day and came across this card I evidently gave to you when I was just barely 5 years old. It looks like a Father's Day card, but it may have been for your birthday or some other occasion. I'm not sure how it got saved. I got it from Mom a few years back and have kept it around, because it's the only trace of anything I might have given you. I guess it shows that it's possible to love someone who means a lot to you at such a young age. I seemed to have a thing for butterflies, but I hope you liked it at the time.

This summer marked 50 years since that fateful night you were killed. I suspect each of us kids remembered that fact at some point this year and it gave us pause to think what life would have been like if you had been around to be a part of it all. But, we all know you can't change fate nor live in the past, so we have all just kept plugging along, making our lives and missing you along the way.

While Mom did an amazing job raising us, there are some things I wish you could have been a part of. Moments like watching my grade school football team win the Twin City championship or seeing me off to my first prom or helping me train to get my driver's license. (Lord knows I needed help with that.) I had a stepfather who loved me and filled in for some of that, but it wasn't the same.

But it's the much bigger things in life that I wish you could have experienced. Things like meeting my wife, being there on my wedding day or holding your grandkids Sarah and Ben. Every so often my kids ask about you and what I know or remember about you. So I tell them what I know or what I've heard. I show them pictures of you and tell them how you loved the outdoors and you loved us kids. I also tell them the truth that you were not perfect by any means and went through a rough patch in your life near the end. But I add that losing our sister to cancer played a big part in that. I can't imagine what that kind of pain and loss feels like. At the same time, I am sure to reiterate to them that despite all your struggles, you loved your kids unconditionally. Mom has made that abundantly clear, and I believe it.

And you know, it's silly, but the thing I miss the most is that my kids never got the chance to fish with their grandpa. They both love fishing and the outdoors and both of these things trace back to you. When I think of the pride you would have for Sarah and Ben it about kills me. They are fortunate as a family to have uncles and cousins who they can share this love of nature with and again that gets traced back to you. So, thank you for that.

I guess there's so much more I could say, but it seems kind of pointless to write a letter that will never be read. I do know that whatever the afterlife might bring, we have a whole lot of catching up to do. I want to start with what happened that night and go on from there. Because no adult should be left with a single crayoned card from which to draw memories of his dad.

I love you, Dad.

Jim

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