Sunday, November 21, 2004

When I Get Big, I Want to Be Just Like My Dad

I have the best Dad in the world. This year for his birthday, I wrote him a letter to let him know how much he means to me. I think it's worth sharing because he's been a role model for so many people through the years.

Dear Dad,
Sometimes I think about how blessed my life has been because of you and Mom. I didn’t do anything at all to deserve such wonderful parents. Unlike most things of value in our culture, I didn’t earn you or purchase you. I didn’t even have to be a good person in order to be born to you. I just got very lucky. The first time I remember this thought was when I was still in elementary school. Way back then, I was first learning about other people in the world who had a hard time or suffered due to no fault of their own. They didn’t have all the blessings that I had. And as I grew up, I became even more aware that it’s a terrible lie to believe that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. Almost always, some bad things and some good things happen to everyone, and most folks are generally good and don’t deserve the bad stuff. So as I think about my life, I am always thankful that I was born to you and Mom. I am truly very fortunate … and I try to be good most of the time.

People assume that because I’m a feminist they understand why I chose to keep my name when I got married. I suppose that’s partially true. I hardly think it’s fair that simply because you’re a girl you have to disrupt your life identity and take on someone else’s name. It’s a big hassle for the maintenance of a tradition of gender ownership. So, perhaps all things aside, I would have chosen to remain a K . . . berg no matter what. However, I have other reasons for having done so.

As I mentioned above, I am one of those lucky few people on this earth who was born being both wanted and loved from the very instant that I was known to exist. Not only that, but I was the first child of the sweetest young couple I’ve ever met in my life. They doted and fussed over me as if I was the cutest thing they’d ever seen. And, as embarrassing as it is, sometimes they still do. Since my very earliest memories, I was aware that I had two parents who loved me very much.

The real reason I didn’t change my name is because of loyalty and pride. My name comes to me from you because you survived despite the fact that, unlike me, when you came into this world you didn’t have anyone. You weren’t welcomed with the love and devotion of a mother and father. Instead, you spent the first four years of your life in an orphanage, and the next 14 years as a foster child. (It still bothers me that you were never adopted).

While you were growing up, you had all of your basic needs met: a bed to sleep in, clothes to wear and food to eat. And although I am aware that you were also loved and cared for by some of the people in your life, it seems like you must have felt very alone. It has occurred to me that the miracle of your survival is that your heart endured and flourished despite the deficits in your life. Not only did you grow into a healthy adult, but you became the most loving and generous person I’ve ever known.

Ever since I’ve been aware, you’ve been giving to others. Over and over again I watched you generously give the most valuable gift: yourself. Whether it was coaching the sports clinics for kids at the YMCA, donating blood regularly, or pitching in on a project with a friend, you were always available to help. Even now that you’ve retired, you and Mom are as busy as ever doing whatever you can do to make life better for those less fortunate than yourselves.

I was born to a man who grew up on the outskirts of a borrowed family. You never knew the love of true kin, or the belonging of people who can never reject you. I was born to a man who valued family because he dreamt of it his entire life. When some of the people around you said that they didn’t believe in you, it drove you to persevere and prove them wrong. You are successful in all the ways that count. You know what love, kindness, and generosity are all about because you live those values every day.

As the firstborn, I am also the first person in the world to truly belong to you. I am your flesh and blood (we even have the same rare blood type). So, even when I curse my bad hair days or my huge hands and thick frame, I can hardly be upset for very long because they come to me from you. I don’t want to claim or take anyone else’s name. No one could ever possibly earn that from me. Although I have belonged with Matt, I don’t belong to him.

I sometimes wonder if I am the most loved person in the world. When I was born, you and Mom loved me unconditionally, and I know that you always will. When I think of the wonderful loving welcome I had to life, as well as the pride I feel about the kind of man you are, I don’t want to call myself anything but a K . . . berg. It’s a gift to be your daughter. I will always belong to you and you will always belong to me

All my love, Theresa


At 12:00 AM, Blogger wrecked_porsche said...

Wow... you wrote that by yourself? Nice. You must given that a great deal of thought huh? You're real good with words...

At 8:58 PM, Blogger Dick the Boomer said...

A great tribute, Theresa. Your dad sounds like a wonderful man.


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