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  • Writer's pictureKerry Hager

On Father's Day: An Open Letter to the Fathers in my Life

Updated: Jun 21, 2020

If you were here...

Father of my children- This is the 11th Father's Day without you. If you were here, the day would start with your silly version of pancakes, laughter and excitement. We would get a family bike ride in or go fishing, you would be smothered by attention from your children, receive homemade cards with moving words from your kids telling you how amazing you are as a Dad and BBQ in the evening. I would make sure we have your favorite microbrew in the house or get you one you've never tried before- I'd complain about the price of specialty beer. Even the dog would seem to know it is Father's Day and want your attention, and you would give it. You would build a 'white man's fire' - one of our inside jokes- on the patio and we would all sit around remembering funny stories. Everything about you made us smile in your presence. We probably don't smile as often but we are doing well. You would be very proud of us. After the kids went to bed, we would make love. You would thank me for the day and the last words we would say to each other would be, "Good-night, Babe, I love you."

My Dad growing up- This is the 19th Father's Day without you. If you were here, I would give you a big hug and you would say something funny in your beautiful deep voice because you were a little uncomfortable with the sentiment. You would smile and joke with the kids. We would have you over for coffee, we would take you fishing and there would definitely be some good food involved. You would love watching the kids with their Dad and think quietly to yourself about how many Father's Days you missed during my childhood due to the divorce. You would take the day in with your grandchildren, you knew how to love deeply. You would be a part of our sitting by the fire in the evening telling funny stories with your wicked sense of humor. We would hug and kiss you good-bye as we waved to you waddling out of our house from your bad knee and we would see you again in a few more days.

My Biological Father- This is the 51st Father's Day without you. If I had the chance to be with you, I would just take you in. I would listen to your voice, watch the way you move, look at your hands in comparison to mine, compare my height to yours, look deeply at the color of your eyes. I would wish I knew French and could communicate well in your language. I would tell you; you were correct all those years ago, I was indeed yours. I would show you the childhood pictures I have and tell you the story of everything to try and catch you up on my entire life in 1 day. I would ask you 100 million questions. I would buy you a Father's Day card and try like hell to find one that actually fit our relationship or lack thereof. I hope you would let me hold your hand or give you a hug and I wonder what it would feel like. I hear you bike every day, I would love to go on a bike ride with you. The entire thing most likely would be surreal and I would have trouble saying good-bye.

My Father-in-law- It has gotten complicated over the last several years. Our differences in the way we see the world, our values, make it rough to be around each other due to lack of respect. Your son used to tell me we were a lot alike, maybe that is the problem or you resent the fact he's not here anymore and I am or that I've tried to go on without him. I'm not sure. I wish we could celebrate together but I know it is actually better for the relationship if we do not attempt to. Know this, I still love you and appreciate everything you did for us after your son died. I'm glad my kids have a grandfather in their lives, how you show up for their events, the times you've taken them camping and fishing. I know you are proud of them and that you see your son in them. Even though you don't seem to like me much, I know you are proud of me too.

The Man I'm dating- This is the First Father's Day with you. I know Father's Day is as complicated for you as it is for us. The kids might be a little uncomfortable not really being able to celebrate it for you but feeling you are the closest thing to their Dad they have known. It will be bittersweet because what you bring to our family reminds us of what we lost and yet we are happy to experience it at the same time. They will probably never be able to call you 'Dad', but know this, they love and appreciate every moment of the role you play here as one. We always need to leave the space to have our feelings and do our rituals for their Dad in Heaven on this day, and we need to do this part alone but we will catch up with you later in the day. Maybe even invite you on the bike ride.

To Myself on Father's Day- You have never missed a Father's Day. Remember that time you celebrated your role of being both Mom and Dad by buying yourself a damn BBQ? It made you laugh because why not, you were doing it all now, you deserved a Father's Day gift. In the past the kids have given you homemade Father's Day cards recognizing you were both now and you were so touched by that gesture. You've done all you could do, and some you didn't know you could do and some you didn't want to do- leading Cub Scouts, learning to make Pine Wood Derby cars, doing hunter's safety class, taking them camping and on traveling adventures, teaching them how to build campfires, being the fierce protector, provider, paying for college, making sure they had good bikes in working condition, teaching them how to trade their own investments- someday they'll appreciate that one. You will get and give big hugs and lots of I love yous. You will spend the morning visiting Dad's tree at the Arboretum eating McDonalds with the kids and feeling close to him. You will take the kids for a bike ride in remembrance of Dad. Maybe camping. In the evening, you will sit by the campfire as long as you can, listening for owls, thanking God for your kids as the firelight flickers off their faces and thinking about all the fathers in your life....and maybe a little glad it's over.

Kerry Hager is an Advanced Grief Recovery Specialist currently guiding grievers through a 7 week one on one Online program using The Grief Recovery Method (r), a compassionate action program teaching the tools to help move beyond the pain of grief and be open to more happiness in their lives again. This evidenced based method has been going strong for 40 years and is used on 6 continents. For a free consultation and to find out more schedule a phone call with Kerry at:

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