Father’s Day 2022
Last December I had an idea to write my dad a letter. On occasion, I enjoy writing letters as gifts. I had multiple gift-giving opportunities, given that my dad was born on December 19th and we’d be celebrating Christmas on the 25th.
I decided I wanted to share with him how grateful I was for the things he taught me, the opportunities he provided me, etc. My dad and I didn’t have many long or deep conversations over the years. And I knew I’d be able to communicate those things in a written form better than I would out loud.
Time flew by, as it often does. I talked myself into not rushing to write the letter for his birthday or Christmas and to instead give it to him this year on Father’s Day.
Two months later, Dad had a severe heart attack. After four weeks in the hospital, he passed away.
As I share these words on Father’s Day, I’ve been without my dad for 96 days. Ninety-six days to relive many memories and moments in my mind. Ninety-six days to look at photos, listen to music he loved, and share stories with family.
Ninety-six days to wish I’d written him that letter last year.
I want to befriend Grief, but she’s not very relatable to me. Developing that kinship is taking time. But Grief reminds me that I love my dad. She reminds me that we would have seen new newest and final Jurassic Park movie together this week. She reminds me of his loud laugh, his heart for teaching me one more thing during each phone call, and his constant interest in how my business is doing.
Unfortunately, Grief seems to do this, more often than not, by throwing punches to the gut. Sometimes sucker punches. And she hits hard.
I’m learning to take a punch, though.
So this Father’s Day, I felt like I had a choice: either get stuck in a cycle of regret or further develop this friendship with Grief through writing the letter.
Better late than never. (I think.)
What follows is a late letter to my late father. But it’s also a letter for me. For my mom. For my sister. And anyone else who loved my dad.
If I’m not mistaken, this is a first. I don’t think I’ve ever written you a letter. I’ve written some emails, sure. Greeting cards, of course. But a letter? Not that I recall.
Why the change? Well, I have a few things I want to share, and I honestly don’t know if I could get through them if I spoke them aloud. I figured a letter could serve two purposes: it could bail me out from needing to remember and say these things out loud, and it would also give you the ability to revisit the sentiments later. (Something I don’t suspect you’d tell me about, but that you’d most certainly do.)
I’ve stared at a blank screen with a blinking cursor for a while — trying to figure out where to start. A couple of words keep coming to mind. So I think I’ll just riff off of those for a minute.
I don’t think I ever slowed down to tell you this, but I’ve always loved your love of music. And Dad, you’re kinda a strange cat. Playing classical guitar, listening to country and bluegrass, enjoying a cappella (spanning classic hymns to Pentatonix pop tracks), Pavarotti at dinner, etc. Between the influences of you and Mom, my taste in music has ended up all over the map. (In the best way possible.)
I loved listening to you practice guitar. Particularly once I started playing myself. There was a period when I’d hear you mess up over and over and over. I didn’t get it. “Why can’t he play that part right at this point?” I eventually understood better as I sought to strengthen my own playing. Your commitment to practice was a lesson you probably didn’t know you were teaching me from the other room.
And what was all this practice for? To what end? You weren’t preparing for a concert. You weren’t being reviewed.
You simply loved music. Creating it and consuming it. The practice was for the soul.
Lessons with you never panned out. It just didn’t click for either of us. But lessons from you were always around me.
Geez. How do I describe the scale of gratitude I have for you?! It’s not lost on me how much you’ve done for our family over the years. How much you’ve done for me.
I’m grateful for the lessons you taught me while I was at home. Grateful for the lessons you continued to teach as I entered college, and a full-time work life. Grateful for you challenging me on various habits, opinions, beliefs, and ideas. Grateful for supporting me in each endeavor I told you about.
But the most visible thing I can’t help but highlight is your nurturing of my interest in coding. You saw a curious 11-yr-old and planted a few seeds of encouragement. You put some tools and opportunities in front of me during middle and high school. And you continued to work that ground and water those seeds as they grew beyond just code and into a freelance income stream.
Now those seeds have grown into a healthy entrepreneurial garden giving me opportunties to impact the lives of dozens of employees and their families. The fruit is sweet and it has your name all over it. I couldn’t be more grateful.
This is the word I’m most excited to talk about. And the one for which I have the fewest words. (For now.)
The lessons and values you taught me and the opportunties you provided me are living a vibrant life around me as I write this letter. I’m confident there are also things that I do and share with others that I don’t realize actually trace back to you. I’m able to take the seeds you sewed into my life and multiply those out to others. And I want you to know that I will always see your hand in that work.
Your impact will continue through Laura, myself, and other lives that you touched and influenced. I hope you’re proud. You should be.
Love you, Dad.
Published on June 19, 2022
© 2022 Erik Reagan unless otherwise noted
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