When I think of you a few words come to mind: kind, caring, laid-back, and moustache. You have had a moustache for as long as you have been Dad. Back in 1991 we convinced you to shave it, then all agreed that you should grow it back…cause you’re Dad. Period.
It was quickly realized in our household that Jena would be the one who would excel at things such as straight A’s, chorus, behaving herself, and never-ever talking back…and then you guys got me. And things were well, different : )
Many of our conversations began with “lets not tell your mother what you did.” You were my forever partner in crime, and by all accounts, you still are. What stinks for Mom and made her seem even more like a tiger Mom is that you are about the most laid-back, easy-breezy man on the planet. So we always wished Mom was more like you, but thinking back it’s probably good that someone was grounding us here and there and making us do our homework.
You and I bonded over the love of the game. I became a 3-sport athlete, so you became a 3-sport Dad. You had this crappy little lawn chair that you’d haul around and sit way far down from the other parents cause you were never a yeller. Win or lose, when the game was over, you and I would drive home and you’d tell me what a good job I did. In 8th grade I was our middle school point guard on the basketball team (yes really) and I SUCKED, I am 4’11 now, so gosh, in 8th grade I was probably 4’4?? But at any rate, after a completely scoreless season, one game I just completely caught fire and shot for 8 total points. You took me to Red Lobster that night…and I got the lobster. Red Lobster, the place for suburban celebrations (and cheese biscuits in my pockets).
What I miss the most about being a kid, other than being permanently grass-stained and out of breath from playing, is the hours we’d spend every night after dinner playing catch. We’d throw that ball back and forth until it got dark. You bought me my first pair of basketball sneakers, mit, volleyball, cleats, bat: all of it. And even though we didnt have the money for it, you always made sure I had the best gear. And so even though our car broke down a few times to a game, or from practice…atleast I was looked good when I got there.
What I have learned from you above else Dad is kindness. I have never once saw you be un-kind to anyone in my life, or say something negative about anyone either. You’re a simple man, you’ve always driven a crappy car, you think Kmart is a luxury brand, and you prefer your beer out of a can. But most of all? You love Mom. You two are pretty much roomates at this point, but it works. I always wished you knew more about Mom’s life, when I ask you why you dont know you shrug and say “well, if she wanted to tell me, she would.” This mostly drives me crazy cause I dont think you tried hard enough, but I respect also that this is your choice, you love Mom and that’s all you need to know.
From about age 6 to I’d say 11, I’d write you and Mom and note each morning, and I’d hide yours underneath your shaver, and Mom’s in her makeup kit. I remember being home from college one summer and I was digging around for something, and found a whole stash of notes I had left you. There was a whole box full, you had saved every single one. I tucked the box back where I had found it, but it made me smile to think you had saved each one.
We dont talk as much these days, you are not much for the phone, but when we do you always without exception tell me you are proud of me, and that you love me. What it does to a young spirit to know they are believed in, without exception, has contributed greatly to the woman I am today. Every kid needs that. This letter just doesnt have the same charge as the other letters I have written, cause you and I have just always had this flow. We could sit together for hours and watch a baseball game and not say a single word. I’m glad you were there to balance Mom who was completely on the other end of the spectrum, but I’m also glad you didnt marry another you cause I just might be living in a van down by the river…the balance between you two has created the life in me now, how beautiful is that.
I want to thank you for covering me countless times, for teaching me the love of the game, for reminding me that things are never more important than love, that simple is better, that air is for breathing, that grass is for playing, that dogs are companions, that saying the words I love you, and I am proud of you, are always worth saying.
I know you will get that house on the lake you guys have been saving for someday. And I’m looking forward to sitting on that dock with you. Here’s to the things that matter Dad.