Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dear Papa Jon

Dear Papa Jon,

Today is Father's Day, and I miss you. This is the fourth year you haven't physically been here to celebrate with us. It's still strange to me. I know where you are, but that isn't here with us. Yes, it's comforting to know you're in a better place without the pain and suffering you endured all too well for 14 years. No, it isn't easy to say, “Happy Father's Day,” to a slab of granite. Stone is so cold. It doesn't fit you. You were always so warm, so kind, so gentle to us. Stone just doesn't seem to be the way to memorialize you. Maybe next year I'll dig a spot for a tomato plant on top of your plot. I'm sure the cemetery people would love that! I think I'll still give it a try.

Ty refers to Mom as Mama Linda. I wish he could get to know Papa Jon, as well. I'm sure he knew you before he came to us. I'm sure he'll remember you when we meet again. I'll do my best to teach him the things you taught me because you taught be a lot, and you taught me well. Even if I acted like I wasn't listening, I was. When you didn't think I was watching, I was. When you didn't think I was learning from you, I was. You were everything everyone thinks you were. You were a friend to everyone. You were a gentleman. You were a hard worker. You were creative. You were loving. You were fun. You were a Boy Scout. You were a disciple of Christ. You were a great dad. I hope I can be all of those things, and I hope Tyler will become them too.

This evening we enjoyed Father's Day the way you probably would have preferred. We sat on the front lawn and talked. Mark and I tossed a frisbee and kicked a soccer ball. Tyler tried to humorously join in both of those activities. He's getting better. He also picked some of Mom's flowers right out of the garden and took them to her and Megan. The clumps of dirt still hung from the roots as he handed them to his grandma and mom. I could almost hear your unmistakeable laugh as he did so. I know you'd get a kick out of watching your grandkids grow up. I'm sure you are still enjoying it from your perch in heaven.

Thanks for being there for me, Dad. I love you. I miss you every day. I'm trying to be the man, the dad and the son you'd want me to be. I still want you to be proud. I want you to have a legacy that is passed from generation to generation. I know you wouldn't have asked for a legacy. You would just want me to be the best I can be. And that's what I'm trying to do. It's what you did, even as your physical abilities changed. You were always trying to be your best. Thanks for never giving up – not on me and not on yourself. Your example showed me how to get through some of the roughest spots of my life, and I'm better for having overcome them. You helped me see the light when I refused to recognize it was there. You helped me walk the path that would show me true hope and help me find true love.

Maybe I'm making you out to have been perfect. Maybe that's what I choose to remember. As I look back, you were perfectly what I needed. Thanks, Dad. Happy Father's Day!