Most days I can muster up some grace and look on you with pity. What did you go through in your life to make you so mean to your wife and children? So cruel? If I work really hard, I can have sympathy and imagine that you made things right with God before your passing and I’ll get a chance to know you… the real you in Heaven….
But some days, I’m just ticked. I know you aren’t reading this. I know it’s crazy to write a letter to someone who’s been dead nearly 7 years. While monuments are placed in your honor by people who worshiped you because to them you were “like a father” and a “great mentor”, no one knew you like the 5 of us knew you. The secrets we could tell, but never did because that would bring dishonor on your name and our family. The bruises mom covered, and the lies I told as a Kindergarten about my dad’s occupation: “He’s selphf empwoyed.” The damage that was done to me to make me feel unworthy of love or affection… the damage that still urges me to keep people at arm’s length. How could you? How could someone get joy from torturing the people who they were supposed to love?
But you know what, you missed out. Big time. That grandson of yours? The one you proclaimed you were going to make a “Switch Hitter”, he has grown up into an incredible man of God. He loves without fear and boldly stands up for the rights of those who can’t stand up for themselves. He wants to bring justice to those who’ve been victimized. He never really enjoyed sports like you would have hoped, but he is so much more than an athlete. He’s a beautiful man of God. And he has two dads that love him and have guided him along in life. He knows he can count on them, and does, with anything he’s going through. He’s so talented and smart and works so hard at anything he does.
And “that girl” that you couldn’t remember her name the last time we spoke? Her name is Bethany–my middle name. A name that shouldn’t have been hard to remember for my own father. It’s amazing to watch her grow up with a father who adores her. The things that my sister and I struggled with, she doesn’t. Her biggest worry in her 13 year old life is if she can earn enough money to buy whatever shoe is the must have that season. Remember how you always avoided coming to see my sister and I dance in “The Nutcracker”? Her father comes to watch her every single performance, whether she’s in the lead as “Clara” or a “fork” as she was her very first year. She does not have to achieve anything to earn his love or attention. She is loved because she is His. Something that both fills my heart with joy and tears it in two as I realize that’s all I ever wanted. To be loved by you just because I was yours.
The more I think about it, the harder it is to be mad at you. I just feel sorry for you. Not just my kids, but all of your grand kids you missed out on knowing. And the successes your own four kids have become. And your wife, who I know you had to have loved at one time, she’s the strongest woman I know and man you missed out on the biggest blessing there. Her laughter and joy fill every room she enters. She loves bigger than anyone and points everyone to Jesus with her words and actions. She loved you. And boy, you missed out there.
I pray so hard that you found Jesus in your final years. That He began to chip away at your narcissism and pride. I pray he broke your heart…. and maybe you were right on the verge of making things right with all of us before you passed. I have no promise of anything. All I can cling to are the few small good memories in my brain:
- You bringing me an ice cream cone at an amusement park.
- You bidding on an awesome bike at Fall Festival when I was 10 and wheeling it over to me as a surprise after you won.
- You telling me “you know I’m proud of ya” on a random day my senior year of high school.
I wish I knew that you loved me. And I wish I knew that I made you proud. I don’t think I’ll ever know those two things on this side of Heaven… but my prayer is that I’ll get some answers someday, and that I can love my children the way I wish you had loved me.