Today marks the 25th anniversary of my Dad’s passing. Yes, 25 years. I say this with the most seriousness…..the importance of a positive male role model in a girl’s life is critically important. Whether it be from basic life lessons (i.e. how to be treated, how to change a tire, how to balance a checkbook, etc) to having that stable influence in order to recognize and understand your worth as a woman should never be underestimated or dismissed. I had little time with him before he passed and in my 18-year old brain I felt I was able to communicate the things that needed to be said, but I didn’t recognize all that he instilled in me, gave me or prepared me for in that short amount of time. I share this insight in a letter form, hopefully inspiring you to write a similar letter to whomever has impacted your life as greatly as he impacted mine. We all have a divine opportunity daily to have impact, to be an example and to show compassion. It’s that simple and life is too short to be distracted by anything else.
I know that this letter comes quite late, but know that I finally have a deep understanding of what you wanted me to learn, inhabit and practice as your daughter in this life since your death. Know that your presence within my life had meaning and impact and that your role as a father was your highest purpose and calling. I know you were robbed from being able to fulfill that to its fullest and you weren’t ready to go.
I thank you for telling me that I was strong, that I was capable of accomplishing ANYTHING I set my mind to and that my beauty wasn’t the only characteristic worth cultivating. The conversation we had about my pursuit of college sports when I was a Freshman in high school changed how I thought about what I liked versus what I loved versus what I was good at. You didn’t say that I wasn’t good enough to play at the college level, but you told me what it was going to take if I was going to pursue it and let me decide based upon feeling if it was for me. As a young girl, I needed to have those opportunities to cultivate confidence and solution based thinking and know that I was smart enough/strong enough/capable enough to choose for myself. Your belief in me as my dad was enough to build a ferocity, fire, determination, work ethic and intelligent life force that has allowed me to run a surgery department, teach yoga after 40, move somewhere I had never been (twice), buy a house, get a hole-in-one, help raise your grandchild, work to save countless lives as a nurse and be there when they die.
I thank you for being a true man who set a standard in which I hold other men. I thank you for never abusing me, never mistreating me, never making me feel unworthy of unconditional love. I thank you for scaring the shit out of the boys that I found myself dating so that I remained safe and unharmed. I thank you for setting limits on curfew and staying up when I was late. I thank you for taking the hard-line to reprimand me when I screwed up and calling me out when I lied to break the rules. I thank you for not judging my broken heart when those silly boys broke it, but instead providing a warm hug and a place of compassion that was needed to mend the embarrassment and sadness I felt to keep moving forward in the pursuit of love and happiness.
I thank you for loving my mother for the person she is, for recognizing her trauma and her wounds and giving her the confidence to be the mother that she never had. I thank you for making the sacrifices in what would have been a successful career, to take a job below your skill and pay level to provide the security and stability of a man at home raising his children with his wife.
I thank you for walking through the dirt to watch me golf…..I mean, how bored must you have been? But there you were and seeing you beyond the sagebrush allowed me to shake the nerves, find the focus and handle the pressure.
I thank you for instilling in me your sense of compassion and problem solving. Being able to see things from all sides, know that there are never easy answers, but there are solutions. This is my gift Dad, being able to communicate and carry out some serious miracles out of impossible situations.
I thank you for instilling in me the importance of respect. I understand why being liked wasn’t important to you, but that being respected was and that this speaks to your integrity as a person. Know I have always tried to do the best and right thing and just like you, I don’t care about being liked.
I thank you for being silly and having a great sense of humor. You were funnier than you realized and more silly than I will ever be….and I miss that the most.
And while I know you sense my pain, as well as our family’s pain, know that it is just because grief never disappears. You just get used to dealing with it and feel in some way that we were better with you in our lives.
Dad, thank you for being my Dad. I got so, so lucky.