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A Last Letter to Dad

A Last Letter to Dad
One of the last views together with dad. [Twin Peaks, San Francisco]

One of the last views together with dad. [Twin Peaks, San Francisco]

I’m traveling south to see my dad. I thought I’d write him a letter.

I knew it would be the last letter I wrote to my dad. I’ve written him (and my mom) so many letters over the years. Of course, the past many years, it’s been mostly email, but back in the day, it was everything from postcards from distant lands to double-sided practically-transparent blue airmail paper.

Write a letter to someone you love while they’re still around.

I’m sure it’s in all of the Hallmark cards, but it’s a good thing to do. What would you like to say to those you love when they’re gone? Here’s a tip: don’t wait until they’re gone. Tell them now. My mother, who’s originally from Oklahoma, got my sons to memorize a poem. Through the repetition, some of it stuck with me (my memory isn’t as good as a 11-years old’s, but whose is?).

If you like ’em, if you love ’em, tell ’em now.
Don’t withhold your approbation ’till the parson gives oration.

… lilies on their brow.
… tell ’em now.

Writing a letter is purely from you to the recipient. There’s no dialogue, no pauses, no interruptions. It’s a monologue, but the beauty of writing is that the awkward pauses are invisible. Just start. Just write the words, “Dear Dad” and see where it takes you. I started with the first image that came into my head:

Vacuuming the living room with Queen blasting from the huge speakers.

Yeah, it’s odd, but it’s personal. It’s something only our family would understand. But that’s OK, you’re not writing the letter for an audience, it’s only for the recipient. Maybe they’ll never read it, maybe you’ll never send it. But it helps to write it. It lets it out of you. See where it takes you. My letter turned out to be really light and funny and even making fun of my dad (in a friendly, loving way).

It said both nothing new and everything new. It said nothing and everything. It was full of inside jokes and love. It helped me immensely. I hope it helps my dad. Then again, I don’t need to hope it helps him, I know it did. It helped him as I wrote it.

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