Originally Published on PostHaven
Originally written on the day after Father's Day 2009 — Republished 2010. I hope this missive is the prodding others need to realize that it's not too late to make amends. You can't choose your family but, you can choose to make the most of the time you have with them.
Forgiveness. Yesterday was the first time I didn’t feel guilty about forgetting to put a Father’s day card into the mail. For the first time in my life I didn’t need to make that call, to hear your voice, talk to you ever so briefly, before you would hand the phone to Mom — but, I wanted to.
That's why I'm compelled to write you this letter. I don't know how the universe works but, I have faith that you'll see it.
I had breakfast with friends in Ashburn yesterday, Dad. Then I drove over to Jack's and spent the afternoon playing with my niece and catching up with Diane and her family. We had a perfect summer meal of Maryland blue crabs, steamed corn, fritters, potato salad and hard cider. Later we gathered around the fire-pit and relaxed over glasses of Prosecco. Everything was great until Jack pointed out the big dipper in the clear Bethesda sky and I began to wonder. I wondered where are you now, what were you doing and if the after-life made up for all the regrets you endured while you were here on earth. Are you with my brother and your son, Monirak? I hope so. I hope you're in a place where people are honest and true to their word. I hope you're in a place where everyone is decent and looks out for their fellow man. A place without politics, religion, pride or prejudice. Maybe in the afterlife, we'll pass through a cosmic customs station, turn in our religious denomination passports and on the other side realize we've all arrived in the same place — regardless of faith.
Until I see you next, I'm grateful that we got to spend time together, to talk and reminisce. Though you were deaf in one ear, I'm sure you heard everything I had to say. But, just in case you didn't Dad, I'll say the most important parts one more time:
Contrary to your own beliefs, you never disappointed me. You always thought you let me down and always wanted to find a way to make amends. The forgiveness you sought was never given because there was never anything to forgive.
I loved that you disciplined and taught me by example, even if it took me longer than most to learn certain lessons.
I was never angry and I never had any regrets that you had sent me overseas to study at such a young age. The experience has informed me and made me everything I am today; independent, resourceful, tolerant and outspoken.
One of my happiest memories of you was when I lost your grandfather's Omega Constellation wristwatch. The watch you gave me after I graduated from VCU — the one in my possession for less than an hour. It had such sentimental value and meant so much to you. When I eventually told you, I remember you said, "Don't worry. It's just a watch."
It never bothered me that people either loved you with a passion or hated you vehemently. I know now that's how things are in politics. I know you can't please all the people all the time and you did what you thought best for your people. You never brought any of those problems home, to me you were just my Dad.
It moved me to tears that, even in your fragile state, you thought more about me than you did yourself. I still have the bracelet you gave me and I wear it often, my own Buddhist talisman of happiness, health, and prosperity.
I know you're gone but, here in my heart nothing has changed. I'm still holding on to you. I love you and I miss you.
Laotian Chronicles: A Life Story [ an excerpt from the novel I may never write ]