Friday, June 17, 2005

Dear Zachary - A Father's Day Letter to my Son

Julius, Zachary & Siegfried Pedde 1994 Posted by Hello

Dear Zachary:

I haven't had all that much experience at being a dad, son, and it probably shows. When you came along, I was already forty-seven years old and was confident that parenting would be a breeze for me. Compared to living a full and sometimes turbulent life, how hard could it be to raise a child? With the benefit now of nearly thirteen years of child-rearing experience, I can say that it isn't nearly as easy as I thought it might be.

The experience has been interesting, though. Very interesting. It is amazing how things change so much over such a short period of time. Like your appearance, for example. I wonder if anyone could accurately match up pictures, taken one per year throughout each of your twelve years, if they were mixed up with those of other boys with a similar overall appearance. And your behavior... one day, you can be the best kid anyone could hope for and the next day, you can be as stubborn as a mule, or as... well, me, if you must know.

It has been a blast, though. I wouldn't miss the experience for anything.

One thing that saddens me is that you will never get to really know your Opa and my father. You do have some memories of him, but they will fade over time because you were only six years old when he died in 1998. One of my all-time favourite pictures is the one at the top of this post -- my father, you and me, all together in 1994.

With Father's Day coming up this weekend, I remember my dad and what a fine man he was. I hope you will remember me as fondly when you are my age. I hope I will have earned your respect and that you will have loved me as I loved my own father. I may not be around when you are 59, my present age, as that would mean that I would be 106 years old, but I guess it is possible. It would be great to see you grow up, get married, have kids of your own.

I remember when my father was very ill, just before he died in December of 1998. We had driven to Port Colborne, Ontario to visit him and he was not even aware that we were there. We left, disheartened, and your Mom and I knew that he might not be with us much longer. You, an impatient six-year-old at the time, had been somewhat antsy throughout our stay in his room at the retirement home and you appeared to have little interest in the visit and, in fact, in your Opa. When we had driven several miles towards home and away from the retirement home where Opa lived, you started to cry inconsolably and said that you wanted to go back to say goodbye to him. I didn't really want to turn around and head back. We had a long drive ahead of us and it was getting late. I suggested that we stop somewhere, have a bite to eat, and if afterwards you still wanted to return, we would head back.

We stopped in Welland, had a meal and waited for you to change your mind so we could head home. It was not to be. You were adamant that we return to see Opa. What could we do? We drove back to Port Colborne.

Oma was surprised to see us return. She had expected us to be halfway home on our long drive back to the London, Ontario, area. I explained to her why we had returned and you, Zachary, went to Opa and said goodbye. Your tears were gone and although you still looked sad and troubled, we could see that some need had been satisfied in you by our return to Opa's bedside.

That is the last time you saw Opa alive. He couldn't say goodbye back to you, but I know that he loved you and that you were very special to him. Several days later, he was dead. At his funeral, you helped me crank down the lid to his coffin and we both said our final good-byes to a good and gentle man.

Now it's you and me, kid. We are on a long and hopefully fruitful journey together. One day, you may bring your own son to see me as I lay dying. Life seems very long at your age, but at my age it seems very, very short.

I don't want any presents from you, son, on Fathers Day. That's not what the day should be about. Things aren't important. A hug and an "I love you, Dad," is more important to me than anything that you or anyone else could ever buy for me.

I am enjoying our adventure together, Zachary and I hope that you are enjoying it too. I hope that I will do a good job as your dad and that there will be many reasons for us both to celebrate our relationship and your successes in the years ahead.

I love, you, Zachary and I am very proud and happy to be your father.


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