I’ve written many times about how tough my relationship with Danny, my father, can be. I’ve told stories of his anger and distance when I was young, and of his anger and distance now that I’m an adult.
I wonder what he truly feels. I used to never know that he actually loved me. I used to never know that I was loved.
And then I find this letter that he sent to me the Thanksgiving after my first child was born (with a packet of letters I had written to him over the years):
I thought you’d like to see these letters, both for the sweetness in them and for the insight they give you into a young girl’s mind. I know that you were once one (and still, in many ways, are), but that’s primarily the past, and sooner than you can imagine or believe, your child will be older. If only you had dated them.
One recurrent theme in all of the letters is your fear that I will tease you for showing your love… I guess my own fear of showing emotion and the consequent vulnerability is stronger than I realize… But then again, as I pointed out to you recently, if I were not secure in my love for you, and yours for me, I would not feel free to play with it – hence the salutation.
Many years ago, you asked me if I had to do it over again would I have children. What a ballsy question that was from a young and, as you can see from these letters, insecure girl. Ballsy questions deserve honest answers, and then, at least, I did not tease you. I didn’t know, I told you, because I had never not had children. I was still a child when you kids were born. However, I pointed out, no one had ever offered me anything that I would have traded you in for. You were then and remain now, just about the best thing that ever happened to me – although now there is your child to give you competition.
I may not be much for ritual, or tradition, or holidays, but you should know that, this being thanksgiving, you are what I give thanks for.
Lots of love and thanks,
a.k.a Grumpa, King Kong, and D. D. of the D. (Daring Dan of the Deep)
I am always amazed when I realize his love for me. I am always validated when he realizes he doesn’t often show it. He calls out my insecurity, and doesn’t get that his teasing probably helped that blossom and grow. It’s all very interesting.
I am thankful for these letters, and I’m thankful for this love. I hold it dear, especially now that it’s so tough for him and for us.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!
Lisa; Thanks for sharing that with me; it’s poignant, almost like revisiting Dan when he was younger and having those feelings.
Thank you. It is amazing to read and to try and remember him like that. xoxo
Best part of the letter is the last sentence in the third paragraph. Maybe it makes up for his grumpiness.
Thank you and yes. I like to read that over and over and perhaps understand him more.
I would give a lot to have such a letter, even if it was the only evidence I had of my father’s love.
For what it is worth, his love for you was always apparent to me (as was his selfish inability to express it very well). I would never deny his failings as a parent, but I would say that to an outside observer his love for you was not in doubt. And I am not one to sugar-coat memories of parents.
No you are not one to sugar-coat, and thank you. It amazes me that it was so obvious that he loved me to so many other people and so not obvious to me – or even obvious that he didn’t really care. Ah well…how weird interpretations and memories are.
Oh Dan…Lisa I never doubted his love for you and Robbie. Never ever doubted.
He very much loved you. Those were crazy times indeed. Xxxxxxxxxxxx Gail
Those were crazy times – and thank you for each time you tell me that you knew he loved us and was proud of us. He so hated showing/telling us that we manage(d) not to know it. xo
Wow. Just, wow.
It was Danny’s formula to joke his way through life. He rarely, if ever seemed to take anything seriously and open sentimentality wasn’t in the vocabulary of the time or the place. Yet, to my mind, Danny’s love for you and Rob, was unquestionable.
Parenting shows up in many ways. I know my mom loved me but I also know that her ability to demonstrate love was extremely limited by her own childhood trauma. My dad died when I was 12 and my mom who was probably undiagnosed bi-polar, made my teen years pretty awful. But, she did everyday what had to be done to keep her kids in food and clothing and in an apartment with the rent paid on time. She was abusive in many ways but she kept us safe. I’m not really sure if I can completely forgive her but instead I have discovered gratitude for all she did.
What you don’t know about the people you know and love. Thank you for your stories/knowledge of Danny, and wow on your story. Wow. I do know Danny took us in – and of course, he was our father and he “had to” – but I know it was a hard change for him, and we weren’t always easy. 🙂 Doesn’t it amaze you when you parent your children intentionally and give them what you wish you’d gotten? It amazes me, as it also amazes me how much everyone around us saw his love for us when we could not. That’s why I love this letter so.
I observed Danny standing up and taking on a huge responsibility that many others of us would have happily shirked. Those were strange times and everyone around except Danny was doing all they could to avoid being responsible for anything besides having good time.
Your situation was unique and you deserve every credit for overcoming a strange childhood indeed, and growing into an extraordinary person, mother, wife and inspiration to many.
I hope we can get together at some point and discuss our memories of those times.
Thank you. And I hope so as well. I’ll try and get a book tour to bring me out west, and please let me know when you’re on the east coast.
For someone who has written a memoir, I don’t actually have a lot of memories. 🙂 But I distinctly remember you and Susan taking us to Mie for sushi in the aftermath of the snowstorm.
Hi Ira, Gail, Jonny, and, especially, Lisa
Thanks for your comments, they mean a lot to me, as well. And he did step up for us which is important for us to remember. Not all parents do, not even if they “have to”.
I try to remind myself most people do the best they can with the tools they have and, sometimes, those tools are less than adequate for the task. Sometimes that helps me forgive (if not forget), heal, and move on. Other times it doesn’t. And sometimes it’s harder when the person with the incorrect tool is the role-model parent; it has been that way for me.
I love all of you. And I’m grateful all of you have been, and are, part of my life for so many years.
It is so beautiful, Lisa.
And, you see the beauty in love.
Thank you Ken! 🙂