It’s Hayden. I have wanted to write, or talk, to you about this for a few months, but the time has never seemed right. And, it will probably come out better on paper, so here we go.
A while ago at church, I heard a sermon that struck me in an awesome way. We are studying the different names and aspects of God. That particular week was “God the Father” and the pastor was showing how our earthly fathers could affect the perception of our Heavenly Father. He gave four ways in which our earthly dads can hinder the way we relate to God, including being: 1) Distant 2) Demanding (overly) 3) Dangerous (abusive, drunk, liar, etc.), and 4) Deadbeat (not motivational, just sits there). For the rest of the sermon all I could think about was how opposite you are of all of these things, every single one! I had to fight back tears when I thought back over the years and remembered your face on the sidelines of my basketball and T-ball games; your proud, brilliant face when you hug me after a show; the daily prayers you say for me; the excitement you show when I come home from college, or just anytime; your vulnerable words and presence after your operation.
You never demanded too much of us. I remember back when I was trying to decide on a major. I was thinking of music and drama. Instead of suggesting I do something more secure (like medicine), you said to do what I enjoy. You never once made me feel less important or less intelligent than the boys because I wasn’t going to be a doctor. Not that I expected you to be down on me, but so many of my friends’ parents tried to discourage their kids from doing music.
You are so the opposite of a deadbeat. After coaching team sports, being on the school board, ice skating, just being home for your family, taking care of your health and the health of your family, and wanting to spend time with your wife, you still find time to have an extremely successful practice that you enjoy and have pride in, not to mention being an influential and famous author.
The very way you handled your cancer and recovery was a true example. You were calm and loving beforehand, and while you were coming out of the anesthesia you kept repeating: “Mom and kids OK!” The day of the surgery, I saw your heart…and it is a beautiful thing. I saw your motivation to get well and stay well so that you could be there for your family and find ways to prevent our going through the same thing. I don’t ever remember you complaining. You took something horrible and brought many good things out of it. I hope that I can handle things as wisely as you have.
Daddy, I know you have dedicated your life to your children, and I guess I didn’t realize until now just how much you give of your time, emotion, patience, love, money and so much more. I think what makes you such a wonderful dad is that you’re not perfect and you know how to apologize. You and mom have never been too proud to admit when you’re wrong, and that has been such a good model for us kids. I guess it’s natural that kids get a better appreciation for their parents when they leave home. I think I have always appreciated you and mom, but I was always too busy to show it as much as I could have.
Yes, God is who makes us what we are, but He used your amazing fatherly aspects to make me so much of who I am, and that affects my whole life. I have heard it said that you are made up of the people you come in contact with. I know that is true because I caught your zest for life, your positive outlook, your passion for family, and your drive to do things and go for it.
Thank you, Daddy, for teaching me these things through how you live your life. I just want you to know that I think the world of you and love you so much. You walking me down the aisle is going to be one of the most precious moments of my life. You will be giving me to a man who has many of the wonderful qualities that I see in you.
I know that sometimes mom seems to get most of the love from the little ones, but please know that they love you too, and as they grow they will come to realize how truly amazing you are. I could go on and on, but I must stop some time. Dad, I love you so much! You have affected my life more than you will ever know. I praise God for you every day!
Your adoring daughter,