A few weeks ago, we received a final offer on my father’s home, which we’ve been desperately trying to sell.
This home has a fairly significant story associated: 1) it was a bitch to build and involved a lawsuit and a rebuilding, 2) it was the home of two loved ones who have died, one in that home.
More importantly, though, it was a place built to be a family home for people that were loved by my dad and Kathy. They wanted space where everyone could convene and come together…and life led us in a different direction.
My family gets significant credit for the amount of work they did to sell the house and orchestrate the whole thing, including my mother who contacted me two weeks ago to tell me she had found a Bible in one of the boxes that she thought I might want to have.
I received it in the mail today from my mother.
The Bible, leather bound and worn just a bit on the edges, was given to my father Paul Krech by his mother Daryl on Christmas Day, 1963.
My father was 16 years old and this was about 16 years before I was born.
Inside, there were two folded pieces of paper, one clearly much older containing a prayer. The other, a letter from me to my father, written to him for his birthday in 2005, and placed inside the card I gave him. The “3/2005” is his handwriting.
I’ve been crying for a few hours now…because I miss him. And because I never knew this mattered that much to him. And because so much of what I wrote in 2005 are the same things I reflected upon in his eulogy from last year – that’s breathtaking in a way.
In some ways it’s comforting that I have the same things to say. In other ways, it’s astounding and confusing and just a little bit earth-shaking.
Here is the letter I wrote, retyped today by me and pictured above. I was 26. My dad was 60.
Just like you, my mind races far ahead of where my hands and my body can take me, so I’m sitting down at the computer hoping to capture more of what I want to say than would be possible if I were to handwrite this note. I’ll endeavor to have this all make sense, but I suppose there is always a certain amount of fuzziness around matters of the heart and the statements you try to make when you want someone to know how truly important they are to you.
Our relationship has changed so much. From days during the Nancy years when I felt so far from thinking of you as my father, to now, where you are one of my best friends. And not one of my best friends just because you are in my family type of thing – outside of you being my father, you are someone I look up to, you are someone I respect, you are someone I think is genuinely unique and an awesome person, and you are someone I want to spend time with. You are also my father and how lucky I consider myself to have a man that can be both.
I think back on my life over the past years and it occurs to me that there is no way that I could have survived or succeeded without you. When I screwed up, you were there to support me, never to judge, and always taught me the necessary lesson with love and tenderness. You helped me through the most difficult of moments, perhaps more than some parents have to deal with, and you’ve never, ever, ever made me feel guilty for it afterwards. Though you sometimes have a tough time showing it directly to me, I know how very proud you are of me – I hear about it from other people. They tell me how you talk about me, how you speak so highly of me. There is no greater gift you could ever have given me than these things – your unconditional support and the knowledge that in your eyes, I have done something right with my life and beyond that, that you are proud of the man your son has become.
It has not always been easy to deal with me and your patience far exceeds even your sixty years of age. I was one hell of an asshole kid for quite some time. I have no excuse for it, but it took me a long time to deal with my parents being divorced, being gay, feeling like I wasn’t ever going to amount to anything that was worthwhile. I’ve worked through those things and it is in no small part due to you, the support you’ve given me, and the fact that I always knew you’d help me find the right answers for myself. I hope you know that even when I did not show it, I knew you were the best father a son could hope for.
Thank you for being such a great man. People often comment that they see so many similarities between you and I – I couldn’t be happier to know that I, in some way, resemble you.
Take care of yourself, stop smoking (please…if only for your family who needs you), remember that each time you call me on my cell phone I smile even if I don’t answer, and enjoy your sixty years and the privileges that come along with it. Happy birthday Dad!
With many tears and all my love,