My daughter is a formidable writer and an even more meaningful psychologist. She wrote a letter to her therapist for Father’s Day, and that act made me appreciate how I write lots of letters, but very few of substance. Given what she had to work with, I would imagine that she wrote either a very long, or very succinct letter – maybe both: thorough and concise. I don’t keep a therapist on speed-dial anymore, but I blog freely and pretend. To that end, today I write this.
(Sidebar: It makes me terribly uncomfortable to write these kind of truths. I write copy and peddle bullshit to pay the bills and even when I write for myself, I write with an agenda. I have a brand and I have an obligation to my message. My message is survive… thrive, rise above, fake it till you make it… seeing it in print, my message makes me kind of sick. But, I’d be remiss if I didn’t start here — I still have sentences to sell, memes to market and wearables to merchandise like the ninja pioneer traveling medicine woman I am.
So, A Thousand Howdies, Dad.
In the million variations of this letter that I’ve written in my head, not many were actually full of forgiveness. I get that that’s on me and not you, but today I’m glad I can drop in on a Father’s Day and tell you that I’m sorry.
I’m sorry that I paid a quarter to light those tall red candles down at Blessed Sacrament and offer up ten Hail Mary’s in an effort to call upon divine intervention and have your plane go down. I was a kid and still believed in that voodoo, but it does haunt me that I did that. You can not even imagine how completely unhinged my brother and I were, that one time when you actually did go down and almost died. That could mark the beginning of the end of our belief in the church. I don’t think we ate (or made eye contact) for a week.
What the Shrinks advise now, in cases of flat-out bizarre family of origin stories, is to think of everything you are grateful to have carried out with you when you survived. In this area, I consider myself to be among the richest girls, ever. Ever.ever.
Thank you so much, and so for real for teaching me The Masters of music and art when I was still a toddler. This familiarity has allowed me a relationship with my creative side that most of my peers don’t have. I’ve been able to segue both of these into revenue streams, modest but steady, for many years and I don’t think I thought to thank you. Mom and her family taught me all about making music and creating from the heart, but you taught me to recognize it. That rocks.
Thanks for insisting I take penmanship classes during all those years my friends had to take piano. I still wished I’d learned how to play piano, but I have unreasonably nice handwriting… so, I got that going for me. I’m the envy of all my friends.
Professionally, you were probably the tightest trainer a girl in the ’60s could have. I think of you on the regular when I engage in printing, writing, editing, publishing, rounding corners, die-cutting, kerning, measuring to within 1/16th of an inch, alphabetizing and chronicling, interviewing and soliciting ad revenue and negotiating the slippery ethics of a wide variety of employers. That last one seems to have given me the most mileage during my slave-years, working for you and actual employers, and that probably proved invaluable. I’m still alive and all, so I’d call that a win.
The things you gave me that you didn’t even know about are the ones that I’ve gotten to stare at the most. You gave me every single good acronym an American girl could want in the Midwest (NTSB, FAA, NSA, NASA, CIA, M5, etc.) but, by either spinning incredible stories OR sharing intimate truths that I had no business knowing – you made me starved for information about the CIA.
I’ve spent a lifetime trying to figure out if you were involved, if the story mom told me was real and if so — how did things play out this way? I’m sure it’s none of my business, but you made it my business by sharing such profoundly weird stories and engaging in such shady, shifty, hinky behaviors. Dude. that was uncalled for. But, thanks for what amounts to an undergraduate degree in sociopathy, clandestine behaviors and conspiracy theories. I’ve proven that I do, indeed, know just enough to be dangerous, and I doubt I’d get clearance to go on a tour of the White House. Job well done, Sir!
You cannot even imagine how adept I’ve become at negotiating traumatic unexpected events. Gunfire, stabbings, arson, mismanagement of resources, abandonment, broken bones, cancelled flights, police investigations, death, messy-death, nun-wives, hospitalizations, hoarders, drug addiction, rapists, identity theft, bumpy landings, aborted take-offs, felonious theft, polygamy, kidnappings, bastard siblings, hidden offshore accounts … I so SO got this. That’s all child’s-play.
I’ve become a tour guide for the terminally fucked. I’d say it’s good work when I can find it, but it is not. Not good work at all. This present has been a super duper double-edged sword. Only so cool, Dad. Only so. But, yeah — thanks for this gift of invincibility. I’m sure I’m going to appreciate it more soon. And, it was groovy to understand the concept of “double-edged swords” before grade school. I think it gave me an advantage.
Thank you for teaching me how to build character by getting from Paris to Wichita with no more than $5 in my pocket, because you’d paid me with a hot payroll check. Thanks for the survival skills gained in allowing me and my kids to survive on the mean wicked streets of this small cowtown, while you had rental properties sitting empty. And, more than anything thanks for forcing me to learn self-reliance in the way that Emerson meant for it to be learned when he wrote it.
I don’t know many people as resilient as me and the kids, and very few days go by where I don’t thank you for that.