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  • One more reprised story – this was my 7th or 8th story after stumbling onto Cowbird. It fits as the final in this series on Dad. Might I suggest sitting down with a nice cup of coffee or tea, kick back, and enjoy it. After this, I promise to get back to my regularly scheduled programming. Damn, I’ve even been breaking camp rules left and right today – more Camp Detention! 

    It's funny, the things that haunt us...those little things of whose memories loom so much larger in our minds than they do in others'...regrets...percolating...boiling to let them out, let them know...let it go.

    Late in his life, as our rocky relationship was on the mend, but maybe I still harbored a doubt or two about how Dad really felt about me, I received this note, followed by this letter 4 years later, when I was now a father, myself. I had long completely forgotten the incidents that still haunted Dad so many mornings...had never even thought about them, really...but their expression to me from my regretful father had such a healing quality, such a confirmation of his love for his son, despite the troubled years before...I wept tears of love, and felt the joy of being loved by my father...and forgiveness poured out of me, for harms I'd never really even known had been done to me...a great cup of coffee!

    (Handwritten letter from Dad)

    Dear Pete,
    How many times, as I make coffee in the morning, or as I empty the dishwasher, or the drain board, how many times do I remember, with great regret, the hard times I gave you in the morning for not doing all that the night before! - And yet here you were, up and at it, about paper routes – working and all!

    In that and in many things which you will remember more than I do, I know I was an unreasonable parent. I vented on you an anger and a rage that was misplaced – it really wasn’t deserved by you.

    I do hope that some of the scars left on you by my actions are being healed. If there are some you should face me with to get rid of them, I hope you find a way to do it.

    As Father’s Day comes on, I’d just like you to know that I am proud to have fathered you – I’m glad you are my son. I am proud of the person you are.

    I love you and I hope for good things for you in your life.

    (Typewritten letter from Dad)

    Dear Pete,
    Every morning when I open the dishwasher to find the parts of the coffee pot to make coffee, my mind goes back to those bad, bad days at Berkshire Ave. In those days, I had an industrious son named Pete, who got up very early every morning and got out to deliver his newspapers to make a few bucks. He was a fine young chap. Never did his parents have to call him to get him up to do the job; he always took care of himself. Never did his parents have to give him money for living; he took care of himself.

    Parents in general would give an arm and a leg for a son like that. Peter always did dishes at that home. At night he loaded up the dishwasher, as well as doing all of the pots, pans, etc. which the dishwasher did not take care of.

    In the morning, the worst time of day for most of us, his Dad would be stumbling around the kitchen trying to make a pot of coffee. Inevitably, he was too blind to find the parts of the coffee pot. The dishwasher person was responsible for that, in Dad’s unreasoning mind. Pete would be there. Pete who had already been up and out, delivered his papers and was probably getting himself something to eat before school.

    Peter’s Dad, me, would become unreasonably angry, and in a rage scold at Peter because the dishwasher had not been unloaded the night before, more often than not striking Pete on the arm or back. Pete never talked back, never struck out in any way to his father. He simply assisted his Dad to find the parts of the coffee pot and unloaded the dishwasher.

    I look back and am ashamed! Each day I say to myself, “I must apologize to that boy. What I did was not right. I should admit that to Pete, for only the Lord knows what kind of damage I did to him – to his image of himself – to his self worth. I should try, at this late date, to fill the void I left in that young man. The void that is left in all of us when we feel our parent does not value us – perhaps even despises us!”

    It is many, many years too late in one sense, but in another sense perhaps it is only just the right time for me to say these things to you. The present moment is the right moment to do what should be done in any case. I have tried to set up a time when I would say them, but it never comes out.

    Pete, I am genuinely sorry. If I had a movie of those scenes, I would despise the man who acted as I did. I look back and say to myself, “I acted like a vile parent, I am not a vile parent – but I did act like one and I must say I am sorry.” Knowing you, I know I really do not have to ask your forgiveness. I think you have long since forgiven me, unconditionally, because of who you really are.

    I look at you and your little boy and I say to myself, “Thank God that my son does not have to be to his son the kind of father his father was to him.” All too often that is the unfair legacy fathers give to sons.

    Having written this letter will not erase the memory that fills my mind each morning, but it may allay a little the remorse I feel along with that memory.

    I do admire and love the man you have turned out to be. I am sure it is truly a reflection of the boy who was Pete at 524 Berkshire Ave. I did love and admire you then, too, but somehow did not show it by my actions.

    With love,

    Your Dad
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