Challenge #5-A letter to my dad

My fifth project in this writing challenge is to write a letter to anyone. As many of my readers know, my dad passed away Sept. 6, 2008, and though I knew the man for my entire life, I didn’t know him. A few years after he died, I came across his life story. I wasn’t looking, but somehow I found it. Maybe the universe wanted me to find it so I could better understand my father and his crazy life. I do now.

Dear Dad,

It’s been almost 7 years since you went away. And as you might have expected, life has continued on. Every once in a while I’ll see or hear something that reminds me of you and I pause to remember your face, your walk, or the aroma of Old Spice that permeated the air around you.writing challenge5

The grandkids talk about you often and remember how you gave them candy and ice cream all the time. They tell their kids stories about you, and once in a while, I’ll look into their faces and see you there.

I found your life story a few years after you died. It was scattered in several boxes, but I found all the parts and was able to piece it all together. I learned a lot about your life that I didn’t know, such as your family’s move to Beloit when you were 2, and how Grandpa Meis was a butcher before he became a store owner. But what struck me most about your stories was your ability to capture a memory with words.

One of my favorite stories is the one about the rag man and his cart. It took my breath away. I was caught up in the moment, watching the little boy as he played in the alley dirt. I heard the creaking of the wheels, the clomping of the horse’s hooves as they hit the hard ground, the swish of its tail as it swatted the flies away. I could smell the sweet summer air and feel the light breeze on my face.

I didn’t just read your story; I relived your childhood memory.

It was then that I realized how much I wanted to write like you. I want to be able to write so the reader walks away with the same feeling your stories gave me. Your stories inspired me to become a better writer.

I miss you, Dad. I wish I would have talked to you more when you were alive. I would have asked to read your stories and maybe we would have talked about what life meant to you.  I wish I would have known the man, as well as the father.

But I think the reason I didn’t ask was because I was mad at you, which didn’t occur to me until after you died. I resented you for not being the father I thought you should be. I wouldn’t let myself see anything but the expectations I had for you. I put a wall between us that I thought was saving me from being hurt, but what it did was prevent me from getting to know you as a human being. I know now that you did the best you could with what you had.  I didn’t realize what I was doing at the time, and now it’s too late to do anything about it.

If I could, I would tell you that I’m sorry and I love you, but I hope in your heart you already knew it.

You have given me so many wonderful gifts, and though I feel like I haven’t given you much in return, what I can do is live how you taught me to live; to treat others with kindness and compassion; to be honest and generous; to have faith in God, help others in need, and do what I can to make the world a better place.

I’m reminded of a quote I saw recently: “Those we love don’t go away, they walk beside us every day.” That’s how I feel, too, because even though I miss you, I know you are still here with us, in spirit.

Love, your daughter,

Cindy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving forward

This summer has been filled with one adventure after another. And I don’t just mean family reunions and trips to the beach.

My dad in 1944, when he was stationed with the U.S. Navy in Seattle.

My dad in 1944, when he was stationed with the U.S. Navy in Seattle.

The truth is, much of my spare time has been spent writing. You wouldn’t know it by my lack of blog posts, but I have been devising a plan to publish a book.

I thought about moving forward with a plan for a local magazine…until I realized that the work load would kill me.

Taking on the roles of writer, photographer, and editor for the Hiawatha Advocate (along with distribution and book work) gave me a taste of the publishing world from the hyper-local aspect.

And though I still maintain the website, it’s not the same.

I miss it. I miss holding my creation in my hands. I miss that feeling of accomplishment after sending the PDF pages off to the printer, knowing that my newspaper had value.

And while I had to be careful not to become too prideful, (the typos humbled me significantly!) I couldn’t help but feel that I was providing a much-needed service to the people of Hiawatha.

Just because they weren’t ready for it right now, doesn’t mean they won’t ever be,

In any case, I accepted that it was time to move on and set my sights on other ways I could satisfy my need to create.

I tried freelance; writing, photography, etc. I have had my own company, Meis Communications, for  over two years, so I thought I would throw it out there and see if I had any takers.

I did, just not in the way I thought I would. I accepted a freelance job with the Marion Times as the reporter for the Marion Independent School District. It’s not a lot of reporting, but it gets my name out there.

But then my need to pay my bills got in my way and I accepted a position at Hibu (formerly Yellowbook) as a pagination specialist. (a fancy name for someone who places ads on pages magazines from all over the country in InDesign and performs QA before the magazine is shipped to the printer…I love it!)

Hibu also has opportunities to submit articles and photos to the local magazine-Cedar Rapids NE, Cedar Rapids SW, and NE Marion. I have submitted an article and photos to the Cedar Rapids magazines.

And with my growing family and other responsibilities, I stay pretty busy.

Some of my followers will remember that I wrote a few months ago about my father. I found the manuscript he wrote about his life story and decided to type it up for my family.

But something happened when I started typing his story up. I realized I didn’t really know my dad. I realized that I had resentments decades old that prevented me from wanting to get close to him, to appreciate all the wonderful things he did for me, to know the man who had so much to offer.

And as I started to read about my dad’s many adventures through life, the walls I had built around my heart began to come down, and for the first time, I saw my dad for who he was; a man who was just trying to do the best he could with what he had.

This father of 10 nearly died in a car accident in 1967 and it traumatized the entire family. I’m not sure if any of us ever really recovered emotional. But it’s time.

This year marks the fifth anniversary of my father’s death.  My only regret is that I didn’t try harder to build a better relationship with him.

That may not be possible, but maybe I can resolve old hurts and misunderstandings.

At the very least, it will provide an interesting premise for my next project.