Letter to Dad: Why Do We Wait Until It’s Too Late?

Written by Carol-Ann Hamilton on July 9, 2012

Carol-Ann Hamilton and her father

Though the premise of this website is, “If I had five more minutes to spend with a departed loved one,” I did take the opportunity to recently write and mail a three-page letter to my declining 89-year-old father to express what we have meant to one another across the years.

This, so as to not leave regrets over what should have been said before he passes.

Why do we wait until it’s too late? While deeply personal, I hope my heart-felt outpouring brings memories for others.

Excerpted, here is my Top-10 List, based on five decades-plus as my parents’ only child.

1. I profoundly internalize that you and Mommy wanted me. Many unfortunate children cannot say they were cherished by their parents as I was. It is clear you both loved me right from birth.

2. Despite the fact that funds were tight for a number of years, you demonstrated a sense of honour second-to-none in always trying to make things nice. You provided. More than one father shirks his responsibility. Not you!

3. Putting out your back creating my sandbox is forever etched in my consciousness. Remember how often we played Frisbees, shot basketballs, and played baseball catch?

4. The trips we took – big and small – were quite amazing in retrospect. I recently pulled out my old photo albums and relished the pictures, particularly those from eastern Canada and the southern United States.

5. Something I REALLY respect was standing by your hospital bed as you brought yourself back single-handedly from death’s doorstep. The strength and determination that took! You have my un-ending admiration for your sheer grit.

6. I further cannot thank you enough for the turning-point dialogue we shared about the difficult parts of my growing-up years. You took ownership like a man for the damaging impact that anguished time generated. I have long ago realized many of the factors that led up to that despaired period for you and Mommy. I assure you, I am complete with it as you go to your grave. May you be, also.

7. While previously mentioned, it bears repeating that we have performed yeoman’s service together since we lost her in April 2010. For both of us, it may have been one of the most grueling periods during the long life chapter we have been father and daughter. My prayer is that you have benefitted throughout.

8. I most certainly feel that way when I consider the value of what you have contributed to me in thoughtfulness across time. We have frequently kidded I must now owe you something like $1,689,234 when we add up your generosity plus priceless love.

9. Then, we come to the countless conversations in which you have amply demonstrated you “get it.” You have imparted your lessons well. Your stewardship of justice, integrity, principle, courage, and excellence shall reside permanently within me.

10. Last, but not least, I have so often felt SEEN and HEARD by you as the child and woman I Really Am that I have frankly lost count.

To recognize someone in their Essence is quite possibly one of the greatest gifts you can accord.

Whew! What more is there to say?

Not much! I believe I have expressed what is in my deepest core.

So you can to your grave in quietude and rest that you did your very best.

Trust me. I shall voyage well for the long duration of my journey henceforth.

You have left things in my capable hands, and I will attend to everything with fitting aplomb.

I will be more than fine in every possible regard.

All this to say, thank you from the bottom of my heart and soul for being my father.

I love you very much, Daddy.

Your ever-lasting daughter,

Carol-Ann Patricia

Editor’s Note: This touching letter was written by Carol-Ann Hamilton, a Principal at Spirit Unlimited & Changing Leadership in Toronto. Carol-Ann is the author of or contributor to six leadership, entrepreneurial, and self-help books. Her seventh book, “Coping with Un-cope-able Parents: LOVING ACTION for Eldercare will be published later on this year.

More stories from: Featured Story,With My Dad,With You
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