A Letter for Dads on Father's Day

I wasn’t there that morning when my Father passed away.

I didn’t get to tell him all the things I had to say.

I think I caught his spirit later that same year.

I’m sure I heard his echo in my baby’s new born tears.

I just wish I could have told him in the living years.

– Mike and the Mechanics, The Living Years

Dear Dad:

It has been so long since the two of us have done anything together. I carry with me a picture of us. I’m one-year old and I’m sitting on your lap at Vilas Park in Madison. We’re watching the ducks swim. Every time I see this picture I long for just one day like that –  just one day. I couldn’t appreciate the moment then but Lord knows I would now.

Dad, unlike children toward their fathers, I don’t fault you for anything. I don’t blame you and I hold no bitterness towards you. You’ve spent your entire adult life working and for what? To give Mom, Sara and myself the best life you possibly could. Thank you!

Do you remember the go-kart zooming through the cornfields? How about the Fiat?

Dad, no matter what Grandma says, I look like you!

I can remember going to work with you when I was little. We ate at the “W” Bar in Mount Horeb. I was twirling on a barstool and I fell off. That was the best damn hamburger I’ve ever had.

Later that day we drove to Baraboo to pick up huts for cows. We drove home and went into Madison on 18-151. We had to stop at the weigh station and you said that if we hadn’t unloaded our cargo the truck would have been over the legal weight.

Dad, you always told me that if I wore my hat too far down my ears would stick out.

Dad, thank you for letting me drive the riding lawn mower around the front yard with the blades turned off!

When I was home back in August you mentioned that you might go to a movie. I left to hang out with friends. I regret not going to that movie.

The last movie we saw, just you and I, was “Red Heat.” We went to the West Towne Cinema. You bought me the big popcorn.

I can remember Sunday mornings at Gobel’s. I can remember trying to talk you out of going to church.

Dad, you and Mom have been married 26 years. Congratulations.

Tang, Pete and “Repete,” the famous hook shot, flat black x-ray carts, Delaney’s and socket sets – that’s what I love about you.

Dean Haag, Hans Moen, Terry Zahler and Clarence Sutter –  men who know what it means to work for a living like you.

Would you call me sometime?

Dad, I turned my radio down today. I locked the front door and I slowed down.

Thank you for calling Uncle Frank that Christmas; I admire you for that.

You’re right. When I speak up, people do listen.

Dad, you have given me so much and I feel so bad because there’s no way I can ever repay you. I only hope that I have the strength and courage to do what you’ve done for the past 23 years.

Dad, I know you have things inside you that you may want to say to me. If we could, someday, whenever that is…could we talk?

Dad, I’m crying right now.

You have given me an admirable model to pattern my life after. I’m so proud of you because you have always been your own man. You’ve always stood up for what you felt was right and just and true.

Whether it was that auto mechanic or the plumber who screwed up our pipes, you’ve always said “This isn’t right,” and for that I thank you.

Dad, I’m sorry I shot out your truck window with my BB-gun.

Dad….I love you!

Originally published Oct. 1998

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