A dad’s letter

My dearest sons and daughters,

I hope all is well.

I have been thinking of doing this for some time.  Thought it might be a good idea to start the”doing it process” sooner rather than later.

This drill is meant to answer more questions than it creates.  But if more  happen to be born, we can muddle through it.

It is just that lately,  time seems to be gaining a momentum all its own.  I fear, that my words  are not  so much falling on deaf ears as they are  off target.  Perhaps they are too subtle.

Just so you know. first and foremost: I love you. Equally, unconditionally and always.  I may not say it near  enough, I might be short a hug or two when it is said and it might have to be a text.

But I do.

I think there is some ‘splainin’ I need to do. So if you will indulge me a little, I want to  shed some light on a few things.

You might have found over the course of our life together, that I seem to be distracted, disconnected and distant in varying degrees or levels,  alone, or in some combination thereof. I would like to address those three symptoms so you can better understand my underlying maladies.

I can only speak for me, but appearing distracted may be my most pronounced paternal affliction. Perhaps it is genetic, a trait passed on from my dad.  Maybe is has more to do with the pace of my life.  While some may liken their lives to that of a juggler, I am finding that mine is more akin to that guy frantically spinning those fine, heirloom quality, “only for company”, China plates on the sticks.

Now don’t ever think for a moment that I think of you as just some plate. One of many, that I try to keep spinning on some stick.  In a weird dad way, this analogy seems to work, so we are going to run with it.  K?

I can count on each one of you to spin exceptionally true.  I cannot explain it – I just know it.  I have total faith in your ability to maintain your balance. To remain centered. To stay true to your self. To keep right on spinning.

And because you can, my life has this perfect sense of balance.   Your gift of balance to me, and your  ability to “spin” with such precision and endurance, affords me the opportunity to look away, and help others to spin just like you.  I know in my heart that when I take my eyes off of you to attend to another, you will keep right on spinning.

Regardless of the quantity of “plates” I try to keep spinning at any given moment,  each one of you, in your own special way, keeps me spinning.  Keeps me from going all wobbly.

Your gentle, stabilizing presence prevents me from ever slowing down.  It saves me from falling off.  Stops me from crashing. Protects me from breaking apart.  While we might spin separately, we always spin together. In unison.  As one.

If at one time or another we seem to be disconnected,  never think for a moment that we are separated.

In one form or another, we are always together.  We will always be together.  No matter what.

At some point, I think I told each of you that there will come a time when I was going to “let go”.  Not so much of you.  But for you.  A loosening of my grip.  Holding my tongue.  Keeping my thoughts to myself.

To see if what you can do is the same as what I know you can do.

That is the  hardest part of this whole dad thing; the “letting go” part.  It is a badge of honor I wear with pride.  To be the “go to guy”.  To be called on to “fix stuff”.  But then again, I cannot always be that guy.  I shouldn’t be.  You have to be able to wear that badge some day too.

You were raised to be independent of me.  To be your own person.  To think, speak and act for yourself.  To decide what is of value – and what is not.  To create your own expectations, determine your path, and set out to reach for your own set of stars.

I have absolute faith in your ability to do all of the above and even  more.

Despite all this flowery, lovey dovey stuff, you still need to be aware of a few things.

First, I will always be your dad.  If I think circumstances call for a “re-grip” – I reserve that right.  So don’t be surprised or offended.

If I think you need to hear “it” – you will.

And if you aren’t thinking straight – well, I guarantee that too shall pass.

You have earned my respect and your independence.  Do whatever it takes to preserve both.

Lastly, that distant – 100 yard stare – you see in me from time to time isn’t ever a longing to be elsewhere.

We have already been together for a long time.  We will continue to be for an even longer time to come.  And although it is important to be “all in” right now – at this very moment – sometimes I just cannot help myself.

Nostalgia beckons me to look back.  And my inner “kid on Christmas eve” compels me to peer into your futures.  To see if my dreams for you do come true.

There is constant streaming of the greatest home movies playing in my noggin.  Who you were then, that person you are now,  and who I see you becoming.  All in one continuous loop.  Playing only to a very select audience: dad.

I remember talking to you, even scratching your back, when you were still in your mommy’s tummy.

I called one of you by name before you even had your very first “birth day”.

The trips made in clothes hampers and bouncy seats.

The rides on shoulders, backs, hips, bikes, sleds, cars, trains, planes, boats and ships.

The first steps, that turned into dance steps on the stage, goals on soccer fields, runs on diamonds and touch downs in football.

Squeaky strings and percussive percussion.

The walks hand in hand.

The “arms locked around the neck – legs around the waist submission hold”, designed to keep you on the floor just a little, bit,  longer.

Graduation day.

Moving out.

Wedding bells.

Grand kids.

(so I get to do it all over again:)

All part of the “Greatest Show on Earth”.

So even though it doesn’t seem like it, I really am.

Here.

All in.

Wow.  That was a quick 1100 or so some words.

Never fear.  I am sure I can muster a few more for the next one.

But until then.

Be good.

ILY,

Dad

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