On the Friday or Saturday evening before Father's Day I usually made my dad his favorite meal, curry. He liked to watch the US Open on Sunday, so we celebrated early. This is my first Father's Day without him, and though the thought of making homemade curry and inviting guests seemed a bit emotionally overwhelming, I decided I simply must continue our tradition. Only this year, I ordered Chicken Korma from a local restaurant and brought it home. Setting the table, I then pulled out the small, handmade scroll from India that holds the final letter I wrote to him. A dear friend read it at his memorial. I've copied it below.
My first trip on a long highway, under big open skies, was in the backseat of our beige,1962 Chevy Bel Air. I was one year old when you drove mother and me from Amarillo to Billings, Montana to spend Christmas with your parents. I was too young to actually remember the trip, but I’ve always loved the story of how we drove home -- 280 miles out of the way, through the Black Hills of South Dakota -- to visit Mount Rushmore.
You were determined to see the historical faces carved in granite. When we reached the monument it was pitch dark and cold outside. Against mother’s better judgement you got out of the car with your flashlight and shined it in the direction of the monument. When that didn’t work you insisted on driving the car up onto the curb with the hopes of shining the headlights some several hundred yards onto the stone faces. You stepped on the high beams switch and with a loud click nothing but the black air in front of us was illuminated.
As I got older I learned to travel with you by taste. You took me to family-owned restaurants where we ate rich Indian curries, spicy Pad Thai and cinnamon chicken. Over time you’d get to know the owners. When we walked through the door you’d receive a warm welcome and often they'd call you by name. Seated in a booth we’d have long conversations over warm food. I felt special when I was with you, as if everything were right with the world. These experiences piqued my curiosity and taught me the value of being open minded and embracing other cultures.
As an adult, I have wanted to see and experience these exotic places first hand. Because of everything you shared with me, I've had the courage to travel alone in the world. You’d take me to the airport to catch my flights and be waiting there when I returned. You never discouraged me from any adventure or from taking risks in order to live my dreams.
You constantly expressed your support and unconditional love. You were genuine and a man of integrity, and that instilled confidence in me. I don't think there's a greater gift one can give to another than by living authentically.
Daddy, I’ll try always to leave the beaten path and take the scenic route. I’ll trust in the goodness of others no matter where they’re from. When I travel long highways, under big open skies, you will be with me. You taught me that love is in the details. Every time I eat Indian curry or Pad Thai I’ll taste the love you shared with me.
Daddy, I can truly say…you gave me the world.
I love you,
I think his example of being curious and open to other cultures is something that we could all use a little "helping" of right now. Whether you've lost your dad or still have him here, I hope you'll take time to create a special tradition . . . . so that you too will always know the love he shared.
Have a wonderful Father's Day! And keep Loving the Globe!