Today is Father’s Day and, in honor and memory of my Dad, I decided to publish a letter he wrote to me when I was fifteen years old. I’d been invited to a Halloween party and I desperately wanted to go. After all, all of my friends were going. But Dad said “No. You can’t go.” I was so angry with him (that happened a lot during my teenage years) because I felt he was being unfair; he was too strict.
Truth is, he was strict with me but I always knew he loved me. The values and qualities he instilled in me have served me well throughout my life and I thank him. I’ve cherished this letter all these years. Here’s what he wrote:
October 31, 1965
Please forgive me for being a stick in the mud father but that is the way it is when you think a lot of someone. It is very easy to be casual with someone when you’re not interested too much in them, but then I am interested, perhaps too much. You are my first child, you being a teenager. I never had to deal with any before; it is like learning a new profession.
Your brother and sisters are lucky because, as they reach your age, you will have already taught me, perhaps the hard way, how to be the father of a grown up lady. Pat, you have a hard job ahead of you with an inexperienced father of a teenager. I do not have the experience but have the desire of which sometimes it is too much and does more harm than good.
Please forgive me of my shortcomings as it is ignorance and not intentional. It is easy to say “Yes, go ahead” but hard to say “No, you can not go.” This is something you will have to learn for yourself with your own family and I hope you do a better job than I. I love you very much and would never intentionally harm you.
Please keep this letter as someday you may have to copy it for your child. I hope this never happens. I hope you have understanding of which I seem to have very little. I always wished my parents would have had more and I thought I would have a lot with my children but did not. Please have more with your children.
I miss you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day!