I think the last letter I wrote to you was probably when I was at three-week holiday camp, around the age of 11, back in the days of postcards and licking on postage and airmail stamps. I suspect the postcard might have read something like:
Hope you and mom are having fun without me, and that u miss me lots!
I’m having a good time but I miss mom’s cooking and clean clothes, and Francois and Benson (the dogs).
I hate the beach but I’ve made lots of friends. The chicken is hairy and the French toast is burnt. I still have sweets that granny sent.
Miss you lots like Jelly Tots,
Your best daughter (I was the only daughter at the time)
But now, many years later (okay, okay – it’s 26), here’s my digital postcard :
You are the youngest 60-something I know, and even though you have chosen to cycle instead of run, I still love you.
You might not know it, but you are the person I look up to the most in my life, even though there are areas of growth I think we both know are there.
I try to emulate your strengths as best I can – your humility, your kindness, your fairness, your sensitivity. If there are any areas that I “fail” in, this is not your doing, but my own.
Aside from the cycling-running issue, I think we are very similar – the way we see things, our love for books and The New Yorker, our opinions of people, the way we can laugh at ourselves.
It’s only as a mom and later in life that I understand better what it must have been like to be a parent to us, with your circumstances, and with your own upbringing. You once told me that you only had one teddy bear growing up, and that warmth, affection and feelings weren’t so common in your home. I didn’t know at the time about all the sacrifices you made for us and all that you protected us from.
I remember how when mom was sick you took on so much of that stuff – whether it was taking me clothes shopping, organising my parties and once or twice even trying to do a ponytail. And you gave us the best of what one person could give as a dad, and as a fill-in mom”.
I hope you’re as proud of me as all of your kids are of you. Happy Father’s Day – wishing you many many more to come! I’m sorry I won’t be with you on the day, but I’ll chat to you on the day, and speak via iMessage and Twitter. That’s how cool you are.
Love you lots like Jelly Tots
Your best daughter in her 30s,