Sunday, June 17, 2007

Letter to My Father

Dear Daddy,

I can't believe that this is my second Father's Day without you. I can't believe you've been gone for over two years. I miss you so much, Daddy. I miss your quiet presence in my life. I miss your sense of humor. I miss your unconditional acceptance of me. I miss the way you used to address me as "my dear" and how you were the only person in the family to call me by my middle name. I miss you and I'm sorry for not telling and showing you how much I loved you when you were alive.

Daddy, our family was horribly dysfunctional and I blamed you for it for much of my life. You dealt with that by retreating into your passion for jazz. As a child, and even into my adulthood, I saw your commiment to your music as utter selfishness. One of my deepest regrets now is that I didn't understand the joy you got from your music or come to appreciate your awesome talent until well into your senior years. By then we had only a few years left to get to know each other.

I understand now, Daddy, how important your music was to you. I know now that it was more than just a talent; it was your calling. Playing jazz was what you were meant to do with your life, and I'm so sorry that you didn't have the family support you needed and deserved. Neither your mother, your wife, nor your children stood by you and applauded you as you pursued your dream of becoming a successful jazz musician. Instead, you were berated, mocked, or just ignored. That must have been so painful to you, Daddy. No wonder you spent so much time away from home.

Daddy, I apologize to you from the bottom of my heart for all the pain I caused you when you were here. I apologize for not trying to understand you sooner. Daddy, I know you knew that I, along with my brother and sister, was brainwashed against you by Mom. It wasn't hard for her to do, since you were gone so much. Children naturally acquire the feelings and attitudes of the person who's with them the most. I think you realized that Daddy, and I've long thought that that was the reason why you didn't try harder to reach out to us kids even after we'd grown up. I think you felt guilty for not being there when we needed you and that the "benign" indifference with which we treated you for so long was deserved.

But it wasn't deserved! Mom may have turned us against you but once we were grown we had a duty to get to know you, to find out your point of view, your feelings, your wants, your needs. In short, we had a duty to recognize that you were a human being as well as our father. Shortly after you died Daddy, Mom told me that you once told her that you wanted to be needed. That broke my heart. When ever I think about it, I cry. I cry because, until that moment, Daddy, I'd never considered your needs. I made my decision to get to know you for myself, not for you. I wanted to see you through my own lens, not Mom's. It never entered my mind that you might need me to see you through YOUR lens, to know you on YOUR terms. When Mom told me what you'd said, I realized that even when I thought I was doing my best toward you I was still treating you like an object. Daddy, I am so, so sorry!

I did get to know you, though, Daddy, and that's a good thing. We didn't have a lot of good years together but I'm so grateful for the ones we had. I'm grateful for the time we spent together when I drove you to your job at the senior citizens' center. We talked a lot on those drives and my eyes were opened to your kindness and decency. I'm grateful I got to see you enjoy your first great-grandchild. I'm grateful I got to appreciate your wonderful musical talent. I'm even grateful for the time we spent together when you were in the hospital fighting cancer. In the end Daddy, I came to realize that, between you and Mom, you were the better person. Your kindness, gentleness, sincerity and, above all, your loving acceptance of people "as is" are qualities I wish I had in the quantity you did. You may not have been the best father, Daddy, but you were an awesome human being. I LOVE YOU!!!!! Happy Father's Day and rest in peace!

Your baby girl,


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well said Mishun. I miss him too.