Something that I have set as a goal for myself to do this year is to take photos of all the family heirloom pieces I have in my possession and write captions for them, including available information about to whom they belonged, how they came to me, and memories I may have of them. I want to create a photo album with this information so that my girls will always know the stories behind the priceless family items we have in our home.
In thinking about this goal, it occurred to me that, while I want my girls to know about the family heirlooms they see on a daily basis in our house so that they will always appreciate them and feel some connection to the past, more important is for them to know about the people from whom these items came. I want them to know about their family members. I want them to have some understanding of the people who helped to make me who I am today. The people who have been important to their Dad. The people whose blood they share whom they may never have a chance to meet or may not remember. I want them to know the stories behind people they see and interact with frequently as well.
So the idea for this series of posts was born.
My plan is to write letters to my children about their family members, and maybe even a few important events. I intend to make this a family history in letters. I don’t necessarily think I’ll get this done in the next year. It may take several years, in fact. And that’s okay. I’m in no rush.
I know these letters will be somewhat flawed in that they will primarily tell stories from my perspective. I will ask for input often. It will be a work in progress. I’ll just see how it goes.
The natural starting point for this project, to my mind, is to tell my girls about their Dad. So here goes.
I want to tell you some things about your Dad.
I certainly don’t know everything about him, as he lived for 27 years before even meeting me, but after 11 years I think I’ve got a pretty good understanding of who he is and what makes him tick.
I know that he’s funny and silly and confident.
I know that he’s loving and devoted.
I know that he’s wicked smart and incredibly handy. If he sets his mind to do something, he does it. If he doesn’t know how, he teaches himself.
Truly, he’s the smartest person I know.
(The photo above is of him building your swing set, by the way. It was about six thousand degrees that day. Handy, yes. Devoted, yes.)
I know that he works hard. He does not know how to quit.
His senior year of high school, he won a state wrestling title. He was just the second person from his high school to do so, and the first in 19 years. He worked excruciatingly hard to achieve this goal, because failure just was not considered a possibility.
The first time he applied to graduate school he didn’t get in. Instead of accepting rejection and changing his path, he worked harder to make a second try of it. He spent a year taking additional classes in order to obtain a second bachelor’s degree. He walked on to the University of Iowa’s wrestling team, and got a varsity letter in wrestling. He didn’t take “No” for an answer.
He does not back down from a challenge.
He is a natural leader. During the course of his training his peers voted for him to hold a leadership position. He gets things done. He treats people with respect and dignity.
He works hard and plays hard.
He loves to fish and hunt and golf.
He loves to spend time with his girls.
He is a good teacher. You will learn so much from him.
You have so many wonderful qualities that you get from him. Determination. Strength. Intelligence. Loyalty. Perseverance.
Your Dad will protect you, and he will push you to be the very best you can be. You will see him pushing himself right along with you.
You will succeed at whatever goals you set for yourself in life, in part because you have his smarts and his wit and his bull-headed refusal to accept “No.” Be thankful for these.
More importantly, you have his love and his support. And he is rock solid. I know this very well, as he is my foundation too. In him you will always have a strong base from which to build and a soft place to land when necessary.
Truly, the best decision I ever made was in choosing him to be my partner for life and the father to my children. He is my best friend. And he gave me you, for which I am thankful every day. Your Dad loves you fiercely, and I hope you never forget that or take it for granted.
You come from strength.
All my love,