An Open Letter to my Father

What was the origin of Father’s Day? According to History.com, the state of Washington declared the first Father’s Day in 1910, and it was made a national holiday in 1972. One of the quotes in the article (which can be found here) stood out to me: “The campaign to celebrate the nation’s fathers did not meet with the same enthusiasm–perhaps because, as one florist explained, ‘fathers haven’t the same sentimental appeal that mothers have.'”

For me, this is true.

Dear Dad,

It’s only recently that I’ve realized the extent of your impact on my beliefs and actions. The first example I can think of was my second grade book report on Johnny Tremain. I wanted to read some fluffy kid’s book; I can’t remember the title now. I do remember that I struggled through Johnny Tremain, loved the story, and was proud of myself for taking on a challenge. This was not, as I would find, an anomaly. All of my book reports in elementary school were difficult, from Johnny Tremain to a biography of George Washington. Thanks to those experiences, I’ve internalized the need to challenge myself. Thank you.

Which brings me to my next point. Writing has become an enormous part of my life (obviously. I’m writing a blog for heaven’s sake!) Thanks for condensing Struck and White down to a middle school level and for proofreading my essays and chastising me when I refuse to answer the prompt. I remember reading something you wrote about your time in college. You were deciding whether or not to get a Ph.D. It was good. What happened to that?

You’ve also taught me is to be part of a family. Washing dishes, doing chores, making my bed…they’re all part of taking care of each other. I don’t think any of us say this enough, but we’re extremely grateful that you are willing to wash the dishes after a long work day. It sets an example.

Next: faith. This one goes without saying, but I wouldn’t be the Christian I am without your (and Mom’s) dedication to going to church every week and taking care of us spiritually. I must admit that it bolsters my belief to have such an intelligent person who is both part of my family and a Christian.

Which brings me to the problem. Because of your wisdom, I can rationalize following your advice unquestioningly. But you’re still a flawed human being. At the same time that I’ve realized that you’ve had a big impact on my growth, I’ve also realized that you still do, maybe to an undue extent. So I’m going off to college next year, your college. I know you’ll have lots of things to share with me about the area and the school. But I’m going to be following my own path (God’s path, really) and that might not take me to law school, or science, or academia.

At the end of the day, you’ll always be my father and I know you’ll be there for me. I know you’re not the sentimental type, so instead of a teary send off, how about some Monty Python?

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