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,

Writing a Letter to My Dad

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Last week in ‘Writing a Letter to My Mom’  I shared that I was inspired by a friend to write a letter to my mother, not for the purpose of actually sending it to her, but rather in hopes of creating a sense of completion for me in our relationship.  This exercise proved to be very powerful!

With Father’s day upon us, the timing seemed perfect to mimic the practice with a letter to my dad.  However, this letter will be drastically different from my letter to my mother.  My relationship with my dad is authentic, rich in humor, respect, love…..and thankfully not in need of any completion.  My motivating factor in writing this particular letter is to make sure my dad knows the difference he has made in my life.  My only goal is for him to get his AWESOMENESS!  I will most definitely be sharing this letter with him (hard not to since he knows all about my new blogging adventure!)

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When it’s all said and done, the thing that matters most in our lives is our relationships!  I’m sure you’ve heard that before.  But STOP and think about this!  Who are you without your relationships….and what’s the meaning of your life if you are living in solitude?

I’m taking an educated guess that there is at least one relationship in your life where there is ‘junk’ – history, baggage, unresolved issues – a relationship that isn’t complete.  I’m also certain there is at least one person in your life that has impacted you so positively that you would not be who you are today without them.  Who are those two people?  Stop reading – take a deep breath, close your eyes, pause and reflect.  Maybe they are your parents as they were in my case.  But perhaps they are a friend, a teacher, a coach, a sibling, a significant other, a child?

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You can be inspired by what I share, but ‘being inspired’ doesn’t change anything.  Take action and write a letter!  You will feel a sense of freedom by writing to the person that you are incomplete with….and you will feel overwhelming satisfaction by helping someone important in your life get how AWESOME they are!

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I will share my letter to my dad in my next post!  If you accept my challenge I would be honored if you shared your letter(s) with me (confidentially or publicly – your choice).

with Joy & Gratitude,

Writing a Letter to My Mom

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One thing I am certain of is that we ALL have a mother!

After that simple fact, the stories vary greatly!  You might have a magnificent relationship with your mom – she may even be your best friend.  Maybe you have an average, acceptable relationship with your mom – but you know or wish it could be more.  Or perhaps you have NO relationship with her, based on a variety of possible circumstances.

My friend Amy Volk  recently blogged about the loss of her mother and challenged her readers to write a letter to their mother.  She gracefully granted permission to feel whatever emotions arose and shared that the exercise of writing this letter was intended for each of us as individuals – and not for that person we call ‘Mom’.

The history and details of my relationship with my mother are too long and complex for one blog post – but the end result is that we have been estranged for 16 years (with just minimal email contact).  Prior to that, although we weren’t estranged, it was far from a normal or healthy relationship.  My story doesn’t have a good beginning followed by a bad ending.  So the lack of relationship with my mother these past 16 years doesn’t occur as a loss to me – but rather a freedom!  And yet, she’s still my mom!

I did my share of self-reflection and spent years attempting to fix or change the reality of our relationship, until I finally  came to a place where I believed I was complete.  I could accept the lack of relationship with my mother, knowing that I would most definitely, absolutely, positively do things DIFFERENTLY with my children!

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Then I read Amy’s blog post ‘Letters to My Mom’  and the tears slowly began to swell in my eyes until one drop at a time they gently spilled over and trickled down my cheeks.  As I continued to let her words sink in I was blanketed in a flurry of emotions that quite frankly startled me.   Maybe I wasn’t as complete as I had previously believed I was.  In that moment, I decided I would not only personally take Amy up on her challenge, but I would pay her message forward and make sure I too challenged everyone I could to take the opportunity, regardless of the circumstances and their story, to write a letter to their mom.

I will share my letter with you in my next post.

If you accept my challenge, I would be honored if you shared your ‘Mom’ letter with me (confidentially or publicly – your choice).

with Joy & Gratitude,