Your dad and I are very, very different. But you already know that. And we bicker, you know that too. What you may not know is that we have lots of things in common. Things you might not guess. We both love music, all kinds of music, blues and jazz, country and rock, classical and show tunes. We don’t both love every piece of every type, but we both love some of all of it. And we both love dance, and theatre. We both love animals and we both love you. Your dad is an amazing guy, he can quiet a crying baby in less than a minute (average), he can tell you what’s wrong with a horse by looking at it, he can pick out a “good” cow just by eyeing it, he makes the best macaroni and potato salad in the world and he has the strongest hands I have ever felt. Your dad has not had an easy life, but he keeps going. He has had the courage to look at his past and not repeat it, he has had the courage to acknowledge some of his character defects and change them, he has continually tried to be a better person. Your dad has never been too proud to work, whether it was work he was trained for, or highly paid, or something he loved, he gets up in the morning, suits up and shows up. Your dad has a huge heart; even if he doesn’t really like to show it. Nobody is better to call when there is an emergency in the middle of the night, he will always show up. He might hate it when there’s a dirty dish, but in a real crisis, he’s your guy. There are many times that your dad gave our last hundred dollars to someone he thought needed it more than we did. Your dad tries to help everyone he can; if they ask for his help. He is not one to impose his “help” on people who don’t want it. Your dad is a very good judge of character, he always knows who the slimebuckets are before I do. Your dad loves me a lot, and I know he will always protect me if he can. Your dad loves you more than anybody or anything, whether you realize it or not, and he wants only the very best for you; and he would do anything he could to make the best happen for you. Your dad is my hero; you could do a lot worse than to be a lot like him.
Have faith. Whether or not you have religion, which I will talk about in a minute, have faith. A spiritual life and a religious life are not the same thing. Believing with your heart that there is something greater than yourself, whatever you call it, means you are not alone when you don’t have people around. It means you don’t have to control everything in the world. In fact, I have come to realize, I have control over just one thing, my behavior. I can’t control my thoughts, dreams, fears, hopes, imaginations. But I can control how I act. I want my son to know that faith has an action component. Having faith means getting up and going to work or school for another day when you think you can’t, unpacking one more box on moving day when you are about to drop, reaching for an f sharp when you have barely ever sung an f, putting one foot in front of the other when there seems no point. The action component to faith is never giving up but allowing faith to carry you when you have nothing left and believing that you will be okay no matter what. It means living in the moment. You can make sensible, logical plans but in the end you have only the now and you can’t control the random part of what life will bring you. You create what you can and then faith has to kick in. I do believe that religion is important, it gives a community, a history, a ritual and a sense of belonging. But whatever you choose about religion, find some faith, find a way to be spiritually centered in your life. Suit up one more day because you are alive, do the job one more day because you can, reach for the f sharp, always.