I’m 16 all over again as I scan the overcrowded yet disorderly organized walls of my dad’s workshop, wondering if there’s anything I could give him that he hasn’t already gotten for himself. He told me he didn’t want anything, but ever since I can remember, he’s instilled in me the importance of gratitude. So regardless of what he said, I knew I wanted to find him something to let him know how much he meant to me. It’s been nine years since my dad passed, but the annual reminder of Father’s Day always has a way of bringing me back. I didn’t quite comprehend it then, but now it’s clear how that moment in time has taught me that there are some things money can’t buy.
My dad is just as much a part of me today that I was of him then. The pain of losing him is carried in the emotion of every word that I write. He is the reason there is a fire in my heart and the strength behind all that I’m willing to face. My father’s life had such a substantial impact on mine and still does to this day; it’s why I still try to find something special to honor him each year. Reminding me of the letter I wrote to him when I was 16, the one that hung on the wall in his shop for years.
It is making me believe if there is one Father’s Day gift that never goes out of style, it is the gift of appreciation. This year I won’t be on any planes to find a place I feel close to him. I won’t make it to his grave to lay the flowers I bought. Instead, I’m pushing myself back into an uncomfortable place I’ve long avoided knowing the pain it would bring in remembering. Yet it’s the only place I can truly feel the impact his life has had on me. Because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to call him in nine years to say:
Did you know how gray the world would be without you in it? I did, and I’m here to let you know like I always would, that I am right. I’ve come to appreciate your stubbornness the more I learn about mine. I hope you know that I love you just as much now as I did then. And even though I say it every time I pray, just know I forgive you. I miss your advice whenever I don’t feel confident enough to do what I know I should do… you always had a way of making me feel stronger than I think that I am. Memories today aren’t the same without your jokes in them. It’s probably why I look for a sense of humor in the men that I meet. I wish you could meet the woman I am today, for I’m still hoping you’d be proud of me. Thank you for showing me what it means to be passionate about something in life. For always encouraging me when I said these are my hopes and dreams. Saying “if anyone could do it, it’s you, Alexandra.” Now I hear your voice every time I stumble to get back on my own two feet. I wish more than anything you were here, but more times than not, I know you are.
In an article by Ask Men, I recently read one of the ten traits of being a good father is “teaching his children to appreciate things.” It goes on to say that, “what a great father does is he never lets his children take what they have for granted.” In writing what feels like a therapeutic letter to my father, I realize how grateful I am for the memories I had with him. How he has inspired me to live a better, fuller life doing the things I feel passionate about doing every day. And I think that’s one thing we can all thank the father figures of our lives for today.
For me, writing is how I’ve learned to communicate the truth of what’s in my heart. And in a roundabout way, I suppose I could also thank my dad for that. We all have our own unique stories about the fathers in our lives, and we even hold some unique qualities they’ve given to us. So this Father’s Day, I encourage you to find what’s unique about your relationship with your father, and in whatever way you see fit, show him an appreciation for that.