An Open Letter To My Dad On Father’s Day

Dina Uretski / (Shutterstock.com)
Dina Uretski / (Shutterstock.com)

Dad,

It’s Father’s Day and I’m 800 miles away. I wish I could fly home to drink expensive Pinot on the front porch (I would still sit out of range of your cigar smoke) and sing “Cruisin’” by Huey Lewis at the top of our lungs. I know it’s Father’s Day, so I’m supposed to only say nice things, but I think we’re old enough to admit you never quite sounded like Huey Lewis.

There’s nothing like pulling into the driveway after not being home in a while and realizing that you’ve set the amp on the front porch and are blasting those crappy recordings of my favorite songs into the cul-de-sac. And even better, all the neighbors are singing along so I always know it’s not the first time they’ve heard them. Thank you for being my biggest fan. Thank you for being in the front row at every show I’ve played and every sporting event I’ve participated in. Thank you for sitting through Fiddler on the Roof and countless other choral performances and even offering your own expertise from that one musical you did in college. Don’t worry—we all think you were really well rounded.

Thank you for shaping me, for molding me even when I push back. And God knows I push back. Thank you for challenging me to pave my own way and figure out why I believe what I believe. When I was younger I hated being challenged, but now I am so grateful to have a dad who has made me stronger. Who has taught me to be completely and totally “me.” Who has taught me to pick a life that I love, because it really is my choice. You don’t let me accept the status quo from others or from myself.

Do you remember telling me that if our family was on a sinking ship, Mom would save us kids first but you would save her first? I’ve never told you but that has always stayed with me as a testament to how well you love her. Thank you for setting an incredibly high standard for my future spouse. You make fun of me for having “standards that are too high,” but most of those come from the way that you love and cherish Mom. Well, and the fact that it’s rare nowadays to meet a guy that can hit a curveball and dip me on the dance floor. You’ve always valued people over things—in your marriage, as a dad, and as a friend.

I know how to be generous because of you. I didn’t realize how rare your generosity was until lately. I watch people argue over how to split a check or who’s paying for parking and then I think of my dad, who hosts dinner parties for all of his friends and is nearly insulted when someone suggests a “potluck.” I think of the times that we’re out to dinner as a family and you pick up the couple’s tab next to us simply because it’s their first date. Your generosity inspires people around you to give. You remind all of us that life is too short to spend all of our time counting dollars.

I know we’ve never been super touchy-feely, and I stopped calling you “Daddy” too early in life (which isn’t normal now that we live in the South!), but I need you to know that you have deeply and significantly impacted my life. Most people in your life only get to call you friend, but I get the incredible privilege of having your genes and calling you “Dad.”

I’m the lucky one.

Thanks for teaching me that sometimes it’s better to be smarter than faster (not just on the soccer field), that “beating to your own drum” is a rare and fantastic quality, and that rock ‘n’ roll is here to stay.

I love you, Daddy. TC mark

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