It was my dad’s birthday two days ago and we threw him a little party with close friends and family who were invited. For me this was something that I really wanted to do: celebrate my father and use it as an opportunity to say thank you. I realised some while ago after reading an article, written by a father who grew up without a father, that explored his personal emotions around having not grown up with his living father.
This struck home with me at the time, not because I didn’t have a father, but rather because I was moved to say thank you to mine. My dad and I have a special relationship and I am truly grateful for it. I realised how fortunate I was (and still am) that he was present and is still present in my upbringing; when the reality is that there are many children, not only in my country, that are growing up without fathers for varying reasons. I was moved to write my dad a letter just thanking him for his very present role in mine and my family’s life.
This is what I wrote to him back then. (I did consider changing some of the letter for the purpose of this post, but I figured the original would be more authentic.)
You know today I was reading a story about a man who grew up without a father and how he, even at 50yrs, is still in pain over the idea that his father did not want to be a part of their family. I also have a friend, here at varsity, who also grew up without a dad and does not know who he is. Whenever I hear these stories I think to myself, How blessed I am to have not only both my parents, but more especially a father who loves me and loves us as a family. Today it was just in my heart that I should want to say thank you and praise you for being the BEST FATHER in the WORLD. I may not know all the father’s in the world, but I know that you’re the best one out there.
I just have a few memories that I wanted to just share with you that I really treasure and which have shaped me into the man that I am today and still want to become in the future. These are really dear to me and I want you to know that you are treasured more than the memories themselves, because without you there would be no memories to reminisce on and be thankful for. Here they are:
- Gardening with you
You’re probably thinking this is so weird, but hear me out. The way in which you gardened reflected on your heart and your character as a man. You tended to your garden like you do us: with love, tenderness and persistence. You never threw your hands in the air and said you give up when the grass didn’t grow where you wanted it to grow. You never were impatient with the plants but were always dealing with them in a tender manner; spending time with them watering them, de-weeding them, and pouring fertilizer over them. You did all of this because you wanted to see them grow. I feel like one of those plants. You’re loving, tender and persistent with me. You never lose your patience with me; you ‘de-weeded’ me when times called for it (ha-ha); and most importantly, you always wanted to see me grow.
Gardening has also taught me another thing about your heart and how the heart of a man should be: humble. You are highly successful, like this even up for debate, but that’s not what I am particularly talking about here. You have the ability to be a successful man and still maintain a humble nature; humble enough to work in the garden with your children. That really speaks volumes to me. If I become nearly half as successful as you, I wish to exude humility as you do.
- Living with you
From an early age you have always been playful with us. You have managed to find a happy medium between being respected and being approachable; I believe not many parents have achieved this with their children. I say this from just by hearing how my friends interact with their parents; I really begin to appreciate and see that you have brought something really special to this family. Your playful nature has really brought down any stigmas that children have that they can’t have a great time with your parents; and has really broken down any “barriers” between you and us. For this I am truly grateful. I wish to nurture the same environment in my own family one day.
You are truly family orientated and that is such a blessing to us. Your desire to have a united family who have love for each other is seen by you setting the example. It is often said that “if you want people to follow you, you must give them something worthy to follow”. You have set the right standards to follow at all times not only with regards to our family but in the way in which you interact with your friends and strangers. Your way of living is worthy of following and in this I truly delight.
You are greatly respected by all because of your open, caring nature. Although some may not think that a man is supposed to be caring, you are and that I admire wholeheartedly. You have such a caring heart and this really affects me when I think of the things that you do not only for us but those around you as well, even the smallest things that go unnoticed. What really gets to me is that you do it and you’re not even expecting anything in return; you’re not even looking for any recognition for the things you do, but only because it comes from your heart. I really love that about you.
- Working with you
Your work ethic really rubs off on me. You desire work of the highest standard; a consistency; and sacrifice. This is really one of those things that I see in myself and I know exactly where it comes from. You have such a desire to serve with your work. I wish to be able to do the same with my own. You have encouraged me to work and to seek a higher standard of work at all times. I haven’t quite mastered that yet but I’m working on it. You are driven and goal orientated which gives you such an air of focus. I really love that.
Like I said, this is just a few of the things that I really appreciate about you. I could go on all day but unfortunately I am currently pursuing something of my own. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for who you are to me: a father, a friend, a confidante, a strong tower, a brother, a leader, and lover of my mother. Thank you.
I apologise for any misspellings and such, but I wanted to keep it authentic.