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Finding Dad In His Letters

Jun 16, 2017 | Comments Off on Finding Dad In His Letters

Dear Beth
Even though I just talked to you by phone yesterday, I thought I would surprise you, by also writing this letter. By now, your first day of classes as a college student are behind you, and I do hope that the experience was as exciting as you expected.
I only ask one favor of you now. Do your best in each class, do your best with your homework assignments, but also do not forget yourself in that you also need recreation. Do not allow if at all possible, yourself to become frustrated. I know this is easier said than done.
I have found, over the years, that when I become frustrated with an assignment or do not feel comfortable with the work product, I set it aside and I go on to something else. Whether it be a cup of coffee and light discussion with staff or going for a walk, I have a fresh outlook and a new desire to complete it when I come back. The work produced is far superior to what would have been if I had completed it when frustrated.
I loved my Dad’s handwriting, the way he cupped his hands together and laughed a full belly laugh, or how he pushed his glasses back onto his nose. He had false teeth because his teeth had been destroyed at an earlier age in a motorcycle accident. I loved sneaking into my parent’s bathroom and watching him brush his false teeth. He was diligent in cleaning them. The uppers and then lowers. I was flabbergasted and curious as to how they might work in his mouth. Once or twice, maybe more than that, he would scare me with his toothless grin. We both seemed to laugh at that.
I knew my Dad. And I never knew my Dad. My parents divorced when I was a freshman in high school. He got married again rather quickly, and that didn’t work out so well. He got divorced from her and then married his third and last wife when I was a junior in college. Dad and I had our best talks on the phone, and they always brought us closer together.
In your case, the outlet may be a run to the student union, grab food with your friends, go to a show or what have you. If you think it might work for you, try it, and this possibility may gain a lot for you.
I guess what I’m saying honey is that all your assignments will be completed faster and more accurately if they are done when you are fresh, not under pressure and not frustrated. As you know, I had the boys yesterday. We did not do much but enjoy each other.
Boys need their Dad, as much as daughters. The divorce devastatingly hit all four children. The screams and fighting when Mom and Dad were married were nightmarish, but we also knew we were a family.
My parents couldn’t have children, so they adopted my older sister Linda. I came along sixteen months later naturally. Next was my brother who was born on my Dad’s birthday and died three months later. I had two other brothers born after Donnie died. Family Secrets and family pain. My parents never got counseling for Donnie’s death because that was unheard of in those days. But I am sure, they both blamed themselves for his death. They drank to forget this pain. And this pain drove a wedge between all of us.
Dad goes on to say in his letter that he and the boys saw my grandparents, played miniature golf and ate at The Ground Round which used to be one of my favorite restaurants in Oak Brook.
It ‘s hard to read his writing; tightly controlled, scrunched in letters that make the legibility of it difficult. My perception now is geared towards text and keyboard writing that is easily read. Certainly, Dad’s letter written on his handsome business stationary is beautiful even if I have a hard time reading it.
Dad. I miss Dad. I miss you. I close my eyes and see him in all his glory. We had great talks whenever he called me. One time, I was pregnant with my first and expecting any minute when Dad called, It was on a Sunday night, and he said, “I think you’re going to have the baby tonight.” I said, “Dad, my due date isn’t until next week.” But Dad was quite confident that I would have it that night. Sure enough, the minute I hung up from him, I started having labor and Katie, my oldest, was born, right after midnight.
Dad goes on to tell me in the letter that Uncle Chuck is doing better. Uncle Chuck is one of Dad’s old friends from high school. He’s a professional photographer with a wife and young kids. They moved away from Chicago and bought a home right on Lake Springfield in Springfield, Illinois. We’d visit the family, and I loved the thought of having a home there. Everyone knew Uncle Chuck had cancer. Dad says in this letter that he is doing better, but he did not do better. In fact, he died.
Dad himself died of cancer fifteen years later when he was sixty, and I was thirty-three.
Dad goes on in the letter to say he loves me and misses me. He says he’s happy and proud of what I’ve accomplished. He includes a check in the letter for me to have fun and will deposit money into my bank account for my living expenses. We decided I wouldn’t work the first year of college.
All my love,


I love this letter, even though I can’t read all of it. It brings up many sad and beautiful memories that make up the whole. I don’t know many stories of my Dad other than the ones I know and my assumptions about him. I’d like to know some more of Dad’s stories; maybe they would give me a greater context around Dad.
It would be heartwarming to see Dad in person ~ see his smile, hear his laugh and hug him. I’d look at him, and he’d look at me. I know darn well he’d be proud of all that I’ve accomplished and all that I am. And for me, I’d love to put my arms around him and give him a big hug and say, “Dad, I’m just as proud of you. Thank-you for being the best Dad you could be for me. I love you. I appreciate you. And I wish you a Happy Father’s Day.

What stories did we capture with my Dad’s letter?

  • He wanted to surprise me with written correspondence, give me support and a little bit extra money for my first few weeks as a freshman in college.

  • Do your best at whatever you’re doing and don’t get frustrated with yourself. If you’re working on a project and it’s frustrating, take a break from it. When you come back to it, the project will be easier and far superior to if you had just plugged along to get it done.

  • Past letters help us remember behaviors and mannerisms of someone we loved. I loved my Dad’s laugh and his false teeth. If I close my eyes and remember these characteristics about my Dad, I remember his love.

  • Families survive even with divorce, death, and pain. That in the end, all we have is the love and care we give to one another. I wish I knew more of Dad’s stories. I wish he was here so I could give him a great big hug and tell him how much I love and appreciate him. And thank him for being the best parent he knew how to be.

  • Dad gave me all his love. I wish, now more than ever, I could return this love to him.





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