Hey Dad

Each day in March, I’m participating in the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. You can visit their site here. This is my slice for Day 29.


Dad, (ostensibly connected to writing, education, and primitive technology) as he appeared on the magazine cover just a few years before he passed.
Hey Dad,
I remember the last time I saw you
we were playing baseball
in an alley
you drove through
on the way to work
we said goodbye
never knowing it really was.
Hey Dad,
It’s been so many years
since you left that day
and passed soon after
but the memories
are still fresh
and I want to talk.
I have questions to ask you
I have stories to tell you
I have wishes to share
and a gift to give
Because like you
I am a dad
trying to find my way
I am a dad
trying to leave a legacy
I am a dad
trying to do my best.
Dad why,
did you spend so much time
from 5 kids
who needed you?
Dad why,
were you so absent
even when you were here?
Dad why,
were you so angry
given to explosions
and outbursts
only to retreat
and hide again?
Dad how,
were we supposed to get your attention
at least in some positive way?
Dad what,
would it have taken
for you to see me
to notice me
to speak words
of encouragement
building confidence
passing lessons
letting me know
I can make you
there are memories
a couple of bike rides
together as a family.
A few Sunday night dinners
that you made for us
to share around
the kitchen table.
There is a photo
of you playing
with me and Mom
on the kitchen floor
all of us smiling.
That though,
is a photo
not a memory.
I remember trying so hard
making up stories
of feats
or accomplishments
at school
trying to get you to see me
even if it wasn’t really me.
But even when we walked together
you were absent.
Dad, did you
enjoy being a writer?
I remember you writing
legal pad
after legal pad
reading books
upon books
but never really sure
what you wrote
or what you read
none of it shared
none of it saved.
I’ve been writing too,
letters to my girls
your granddaughters
in case I pass early
like you did
hoping to leave a legacy
of love
of answers
or wishes
for their future
so they know
they were cherished,
prayed for,
Dad, did you
enjoy being a father?
I didn’t have that impression
we seemed more of a bother
than a treasure
but I can see
it was your view
that was distorted
not your kids.
Dad, you missed
so much.
Five kids
who if you only looked
would all make you proud
they grew strong
and carved paths
of their own
becoming parents
or friends
or leaders
all leaving a heritage
of loving deeply
even when they may not have tasted
such love in their youth
at least from a father.
Dad, I wish
you could see them
and their own legacy
nine grandchildren
strong, brilliant
kind and generous
building legacies
of their own.
I can’t miss
what I never knew
I stopped longing
for what other kids had
fathers to teach them
protect them
and pass life’s wisdom
I can’t mourn
what I never had
I stopped grieving
long ago
so many tears
when you passed
tears not
for what I was losing
but tears
for what I never had.
I still had a lot
I was loved
I was protected
I had a future
from a Father
who knew you
and knew me
and had it all
worked out
long ago.
I forgive you.
I’m a dad too
and I know
this road
that is more
than paved highway
and who am I to judge?
I choose instead
to be grateful
for whatever time we had
and for your past
in building my present
and future.

16 thoughts on “Hey Dad

  1. These words of yours are the truth of what helps me to continue to forgive my own dad who recently died.
    “I was loved
    I was protected
    I had a future
    from a Father
    who knew you
    and knew me
    and had it all
    worked out
    long ago.”
    Thank you for sharing this personal and powerful piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m in tears. This must have been so difficult to write, and yet so cathartic. I feel so much pain in the words, but also release, forgiveness, and love. Your girls are so very fortunate to have a father who loves and cherishes them. You’ve taken the heartbreak of the past and started a new generation of fatherhood. One that your children will write about some day, thanking you for the time and love you gave them. They will know they were parented by someone who learned about what a father is from a Heavenly Father. They are blessed. You are an amazing writer, teacher, friend, and father. You are indeed leaving a wonderful legacy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I cannot adequately thank you for your kind support and encouragement, which often seems to come at just the right time. Thank you for stretching me as a writer, educator, and child of a gracious Father.


  3. A very powerful piece. The best is the forgiveness. Speaking from a similar relationship with my father, it is a powerful step toward healing and making the most of the memories you do have.


  4. Your raw, honest questioning leaves me breathless. The “real-ness” here comes from vigilant reflection and a life open. Your questions, your journey, your resolution, your forgiveness–all roll into a journey of a life defined. Your dad was one part of that definition. You have added to it allowing the beauty of Greg, a dad, a friend, a writer, a believer to unfold. Beautiful post. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, my, what a lovely poem. It sure seems like you are leaving a strong and positive legacy for your daughters. It is hard for me to imagine what my sons will think of me in the future (and they are 21 and 23 already). I love the image of parenthood being more of a roller coaster than paved highway. Thank you for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This open legacy letter overflows with longing, wishing, and forgiveness. Your words reverberate with the desire all parents have to strive to love more completely in order to strengthen their children on life’s journey. So beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

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