The REAL Letter to My Dad

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Dad,
How do I possibly begin to put into words all that you mean to me and what a total and complete difference you have made in my life.  When I think of you,  I am reminded of the book ‘The Giving Tree’ by Shel Silverstein.  The story is about the relationship between a tree and little boy – and their journey together through life.  The tree gives and gives and gives to the boy, never asking for anything in return.  You my dear daddy are my tree!  You have provided me with everything I’ve needed at each stage of my life, whether I’ve asked for it or not.  And not once have you ever asked for anything in return.

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Your ‘giving’ is not in relationship to any materialistic items you have given me.  Rather, you are generous with giving your experience, your wisdom, your opinion (but only when asked), your laughter, your ‘take it with a grain of salt’ attitude and your playfulness!

As with ‘The Giving Tree’, you are a rock solid force in my life.  You are probably the most stable person I know, continuing to put one foot in front of another on your life’s journey, sometimes getting battered and bruised – but NEVER getting knocked down!

By far the greatest gift you have ever given me is the gift of your friendship as I became an adult, a wife and a mother.  Although I will always be your little girl at heart, you allowed us to transition from the typical parent – child  relationship into a mature adult friendship with give and take, unconditional love, disagreement at times, but always a mutual respect!

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More than anything, I want to honor and acknowledge you!  I want you to know how much I LOVE you and how AWESOME you are!  Here are 10 things I love about you:

1.  You talk with your hands – some would think you are Italian, but we know you are just an engineer that explains things both physically and with your words.

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2.  Your have an incredible work ethic – you exhibit a sense of responsibility, follow through and pride in your work.  This certainly holds true in your career, but is also evident in your various home improvement, landscaping, and furniture refinishing projects.  Your attention to detail and ability to bring something to completion is inspiring.

3.  You thrive on trying new things – I could write a whole post about this!  Wait – I did that already – The Thrill of Something New!  My heart bursts with JOY as I watch you pass this most amazing life lesson onto your 4 grandsons.

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4.  You never complain – about anything!  For real!  That is an incredible quality.  There are many times I let a complaint slip (or vomit) out of my mouth and I think ‘Hhhm – my Dad would never have said that!’

5.  You know what you LOVE – and you are intentional about enjoying the things you love.  Just a few of which are cross country skiing, antiques, jazz music, golf, tigers, ice cream after 11:00 pm, dancing, watching football and snorkeling!

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6.   You dress mono-chromatically – this is one of those quirky things that makes you uniquely YOU!  From jacket, shirt, pants, socks and even shoes, you blend various shades of the same color.  The exception to this rule is with your summer attire, in which case you go in the complete opposite direction and mix contrasting bright colors.  I know we tease you, but I really do LOVE this about you!

7.  You live fully in the moment –  you are AWESOME at being present to whatever you are doing in the moment.  If you are unloading groceries, folding laundry or cooking dinner – you are present.  If you are playing ‘hearts’, watching a late night movie or reading a sci-fi book – you are present.  If you are zooming down the water slide, snorkeling with dolphins or kayaking in the river – you are present!

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8.  You exude JOY – when you smile and laugh, JOY spills out of all your pores and makes you contagious!

9.  You believe in me – not once, ever in my entire life,  have you told me that I couldn’t do something!  Even if you may have thought that I shouldn’t do it, you believed in me!  You believed that I would either succeed or would recover from whatever consequences and life lessons I faced.

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10.  You put family first – I felt this as a child, but I began to really distinguish it clearly as I watched your relationship with your mom as she aged.  You were consistent in your commitment, whether you were calling to talk or driving the 8 hours to visit her.  This continues with your children and grandchildren.  Your love towards us and your desire to be in relationship with us is without question!

I sometimes talk with my hands,  I strive to not complain, but I will never dress mono-chromatically.  The rest of what I LOVE about you are part of who you are and how you live your life – and you have been an exceptional role model.

I love and honor you as both my father and my friend!

with Joy & Gratitude,

The REAL Letter to My Mom

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Mom,

Where do I begin?

What do I say?

Why am I even doing this?

Deep breath…..

I inch right to the edge of the emotional cliff as I begin to write you a letter, but I’m overwhelmed by the physical sensations that I have no control over.   My heart is pounding out of my chest, my hands are shaking and I have chills up and down my body as though a cold breeze just blew through the room.

Deep breath….

I want to be complete in our relationship, but how do I accomplish that when we have NO relationship.  The sad part is that I’m really ok with it the way it is!  There has been a sense of freedom not having to worry about every word I say (or don’t say) and every action I take (or don’t take), knowing that you frequently misinterpreted my intentions.  There is freedom in not having to please you, not having to do it your way, not having to explain myself to you.  There is FREEDOM!

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I’m no longer angry, for I believe you did the best you could.  But there is sadness, because your best wasn’t good enough.  It left me robbed of the opportunity to experience what a mother-daughter relationship should be or could be in its purest form.

I don’t say this to hurt you, but I want you to know that I’m OK in spite of our relationship.  Over the years I have established relationships with many women that helped to fill the void of not having you in my life.  Women that have supported me, laughed with me, shopped with me, talked about raising children with me, encouraged me, drank wine with me, cried with me, shared authentically with me…..and loved me unconditionally – like a mom should!

I am most grateful for the fact that my boys are OK in spite of our dysfunctional relationship!  Being your daughter, I learned all the ways I didn’t want to be and all the things I didn’t want to say with my children.  My proudest accomplishment in life is the depth of relationship I have with both Ben and Peter!  We have mutual respect, we talk when we disagree, we laugh together, we apologize when we hurt each other, and they know without question how special they are – exactly as they are, and how much they are loved!

I needed to dump all that baggage so I could clear the way to share what I really want to say.  I want you to know that there are happy memories too – life lessons, family traditions and joyful moments that I have been able to hold onto and incorporate in my adult life.

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1.  Your love of the beach was ingrained in me.   When I sit at the beach, mesmerized by the repetition of the waves crashing on the shore, I feel connected to you, knowing how much you love being at the ocean’s edge.

2.  I think of you when I see the color purple.  I still have the amethyst jewelry you gave me, although I can’t remember the last time I wore it?  I suddenly have the urge to dig through my jewelry box in search of it!

3.  I used to think you were so strange for eating apples with natural peanut butter – and now it is one of our favorite (almost daily) snacks!

4.  You made birthdays SO special!  You would wake me up at 12:01 am to be the very first person to wish me a happy birthday!  You taught me to fully celebrate the meaning of someone’s birthday and gave me the freedom to allow it to last longer than just 24 hours.

5.  You gave the longest hugs!  I didn’t really enjoy it as a child, but when I embrace Ben or Peter in a hug, I am never the one to initiate the ending of it!  I will stay there with my arms wrapped around them as long as they will allow me!

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6.  You made the most amazing chocolate mousse that I have ever tasted!  It was rich in taste, but oh so light in its texture!  I have never been able to duplicate it like you.  After I find the amethyst jewelry I think I’ll search for the chocolate mousse recipe – it’s time to try it again.

7.  Watching Howie Mandel portray his ‘Bobby’ character or put a latex glove on his head made us laugh so hard we would snort, which made us laugh even harder, which made us snort some more….until tears of joy rolled down our faces.

8.  At night when you tucked me in, you would stroke my head and softly sing me to sleep.  Your repertoire included ‘Little Girl Kneels’, ‘Five Pennies’ and ‘You Are My Sunshine’.  The day I became a mom I picked up where you left off – singing the same 3 songs to both Ben and Peter (my version is ‘Little Boy Kneels’).  I felt your love when you sang to me, and my heart still feels love for you when I sing to my boys.

Our relationship was flawed to a point that it couldn’t continue, but in the midst of that – you left a positive mark, you made a difference and I know you loved me.

with Joy & Gratitude,