Better Late Than Never?

BELATED: delayed beyond the usual time, existing or appearing past the normal or proper time

Dear Dad,

I’ve had your Father’s Day card sitting on my desk waiting to be mailed for almost a week now.  It felt inadequate to just sign my name to the pre-printed Hallmark sentiment.  I felt the need to supplement.  But, I’ve been searching for the right words.   I haven’t found them.  But, I found these:

Father’s Day has always been tricky for me.  You don’t fit in Hallmark’s box.

Hallmark makes a lot of cards designed for dads who fix things and mow the lawn.  Since you didn’t live with us for most of my childhood I didn’t benefit from your handyman skills or lawn mowing.  Although, there was that one time you fixed mom’s car before our visitation even though you had a hangover.  Remember how she left it parked in the sun?  I guess you probably had that coming.  Sadly, Hallmark doesn’t make any cards “For the Dad that can fix a car the morning after a bender.”  They make cards for just about everything else, but not that.

There are lots of Father’s Day cards about TV watching and fighting over the remote.  We only shared a television for one day every-other-weekend, so remote battles don’t really capture our relationship.  Plus, I don’t remember feeling like there was an option to “fight” for a different show.  Did you even have channels that showed something other than John Wayne movies or did you order a custom Cowboy Cable package?

Then there are the bad puns and lowest-common-denominator jokes.  I respect you too much for those.  You love language and have a gift for words.  I can’t give you a card that makes me groan because I know it will make you groan even louder.  And of all days, Father’s Day should be a groan-free day.

So, you can see my dilemma.  No handyman, lawn mowing, television or dumb joke cards.    That eliminates about 73% of available Father’s Day cards.

But, there are still lots of touching cards with words printed on watercolor landscapes.  I wish I could buy one of those.  But I can’t.  They remind me of the dad I didn’t have.  You didn’t read me bedtime stories or teach me to drive.  You didn’t play catch with me in the yard or attend all my sporting events and recitals.  You didn’t see me off to dances or intimidate my boyfriends.  You are not my best friend.

That all sounds harsh, I know.  But it’s true.  We have something different.  You’re a cowboy.  You’re tough and thick-skinned.  The love you give is equally so.  You are not affectionate.  You do not gush compliments.  I know I am loved.  It’s just not a mushy Hallmark kind of love.

It’s the kind of love that never used me as a pawn in marital conflicts.

It’s the kind of love that never forced me to turn down a sleepover invite because it was “your” weekend on the visitation schedule.

It’s the kind of love that always sent child support on time and never griped about the expense.

It’s the kind of love that rented fancy clothes for my wedding and agreed to dance in front of strangers.

It’s the kind of love that embraced the idea of honoring my brothers with the job of walking me down the aisle.

It’s the kind of love that drives four hours to take my family out to dinner.

If Hallmark printed all that on a watercolor background, I would buy the card.  But they don’t.

So, I am left searching the card aisle for my old stand-by – the small percentage of Father’s Day cards that don’t actually talk about fathers.  So, once again you are receiving a Father’s Day card that talks about how awesome I am and how lucky you are to have me.

But, this year that just didn’t feel like enough.  So I’m supplementing with this letter.

I love you.

Not for your handyman skills or the straight lines you left in the lawn.  Not for your taste in television or your golfing abilities.  Just for you.  That’s what daughters do…especially the awesome ones.

Don’t you feel lucky to have me?

Happy Father’s Day!


4 thoughts on “Better Late Than Never?

  1. I had a typical father. Your moving letter kind of makes me wish I had yours. And that’s the best way to honor him. Thank you for your honesty.

    1. Everyone needs a little quirky and dysfunction. Our family just got a larger dose than most. I admit, I’ve never known it to cause envy. Laughter, yes. But never envy. Thanks for the first! 🙂

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