Sorry we haven’t spoken in a while. After you died you made it a little difficult. I’m not blaming you, Dad, but talking is difficult with you dead. Actually, it was difficult the last few years as Alzheimer’s set in. That was really hard to watch. You were a chatty guy, always opinionated, always passionate, and I miss that about you. I miss our talks, and I wonder what we would talk about if you were still alive.
Would you be surprised or pleased with the way I’ve turned out as a husband and father? You probably wouldn’t be surprised, except that I haven’t run for president yet. Ambition was never our problem as Mattis men. It was always follow through. So to have your view of my life would be a treat. You never let me settle for less than my best. Is this my best? For now, yes, but I’m getting stronger – probably not presidency strong, but I can sort of hard-boil eggs.
I’m glad you were my dad. Actually, you were a dad to my friends too, boys with absent or disinterested fathers. You included them in our home. You challenged us to excel. You called us out when we blew it as boys are wont to do. You made our house a safe home, and I can safely say my friends were glad you were my dad too.
As far as the Alzheimer’s goes, I hate it. It stole all that made you yourself, like a selfish lord eating the corn and leaving the cob for the peasant servants. I pray daily that the curse of Alzheimer’s ends with your generation in our family, that it’s over and done. Lord, hear my prayer!
I won’t bore you with the details of my life. I’m sure you have much more exciting things to do with the Lord Jesus while you wait on me. Since it is Father’s Day though, I wanted to take a minute to tell you a couple things I will never forget. You were a good dad for many reasons, but here’s what I want to emulate.
First, you were kind. You never tore me down. You always built me up. There were definitely bricks you had to remove and some shoddy framing that needed redone, but you never gutted me. I appreciate that. In a world of judgement, of competing voices and agendas you took time to shape me deliberately into the person I am today. Thanks for being gentle and kind.
Second, you were faithful. Not only did you love Mom, but you honored and respected me. Your consistency and integrity were unimpeachable. When I blew it, you had my back. When I succeeded, you cheered me and looked at the strangers around you, “That’s my son.” I never had to succeed to have your love and acceptance. I had them regardless.
I know you didn’t read your Bible much, but here are some words about God the Father that make me think of you. It’s Exodus 34:6.
6 The Lord passed before him, and proclaimed,
“The Lord, the Lord,
a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger,
and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
The two things I most want to emulate about you, your kindness and your faithful love, they came from God. Dad, I know it was hard figuring out fatherhood without your own dad to guide you. I’m doing the same thing now. It feels like an island at times. But through it all, God was gracious and merciful to you, and through you God’s love became evident to me.
So today I’m crying from pure joy, that I had a wonderful dad who loved me and fought for me. I hate that I don’t have you now, but in a world full of weak and absent fathers I’m so glad you’re worth missing.
Have a great time, and I’ll see you soon (but not too soon).