An open letter to my father


When grandpa died, the funeral was happy. His last weeks were painful, but the sense of a happy-long life were everywhere. The funeral was more beautiful than you could dream: a wonderful summer day, cousins from everywhere, a minister who worked for him as a kid, and laughter.

Those aren’t here for you.

You were so happy with life. You were so healthy. You died too soon. The weather is miserable, cold, and lonely. Two of your brothers live in town, but the Upper Peninsula was always your true home.

I feel like a rope is around my neck. I just feel awful.

We were going through old pictures, and I couldn’t. Normally I much stronger with photographs than mom. But I couldn’t finish the task.

I haven’t been able to think. I can’t lose myself in my work, because I can’t concentrate enough to work.

But last night I was bursting with happiness. My girlfriend’s car was totaled. She was hit, from behind, by the rear wheels of a passing semi. A witness told her “you should be dead.” She escaped without one cut, one bruise, or one sore.

While driving to pick her up, “Picture of You” came on my ipod. The singer lost his father young, so I kept thinking of those pictures. Except for one verse which wasn’t about you. Which I thank God never described you at all.

From the moment I heard she was OK to the moment I began writing this, I was only happy. I am crying now, but that is alright. I’m so happy and so sad at the same time.

But as you told my brother, there’s no time for that talk now. This is what keeps running through my mine:

“I found a picture of you and me together”

“I was your child and you were still my father”

“I found a picture of you and you were younger”

“holding me up you were so much stronger”

“i found a picture of you”

“oh, and they were good times, weren’t they dad”

“when you were free and you were young”


“they were good times, until the corporate world
stole a father from his son”

Those are the lines that don’t describe you. You were professional, but you were not corporate. You were great at what you did, but you choose to be with us. The day before your heart attack, you and I were planning spring break on the phone, you and my brother were planning to travel the Oregon Trail, again, on the phone, and you and my sister were planning a summer vacation.

You loved us. We love you.

“i found a picture of you and you were smiling”

“after fifty long years you found the best of life was now”

“and you would never trade it in for anything”

“oh, and they were good times, weren’t they father”

“cause you were safe and you could rest”

“they were good times”

I miss you. I love you.

(Do you remember our secret? I told you when you were sleeping.)

Your son (always),


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5 thoughts on “An open letter to my father
  1. I will always be there with you and your dad. I have something to say to him next time I see him. “Thank you so much, thank you tell God that you want me to take care of Dan and I should not leave now…”

  2. I offer you my condolences.

    Thank you for sharing your father with us. There’s nothing easy about all of this trauma, so take time for yourself. The connection you share to your father is permanent. That’s a source of much distress and also comfort. In time the connection is what you’re left with. A different connection obviously than with your readers, but at least I offer that you are connected and that’s important.

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