Forty-five years ago when I was writing columns for a daily newspaper I received a submission from a young man who told me he had written a column paying tribute to his dad on Father’s Day which was fast-approaching, and he asked me if I would offer it to my editor for publication.
He added that he didn’t want to be identified by name if the story was published but he did agree to provide his first name which was Tom.
Under normal circumstances I would have politely told him the newspaper didn’t accept many columns from readers but after reading just two paragraphs of his story I let my editor read it and he quickly agreed to publish it.
Today – with Father’s Day nearing – here is that column just as I wrote it except for a few things I had to leave out because of the letter’s length.
I think you’ll understand why I saved my column about it all these years …
“Dear Dad: I was going through the attic the other day looking for some things my wife sent me up there for when I came across a scrapbook I had saved since I was a little boy. In it I saw some of the things you taught me when I was growing up.
“The walks we used to take along the creek where you showed me how a tadpole grew up to be a frog and the walks we took through the woods where you taught me the difference between an oak and a maple and how to tell a hickory from a beech and a pine from an elm.
“The way you went with me all the way through Little League baseball and hollered and clapped when I would get a hit, and the way your followed me through Cub Scouts, always there behind me when I needed you.
“I remember when I would fall down and skin my knee you would hug me and wipe away my tears, then take my hand and we would walk down the road together.
“And I remember when you bought me my first car and how you couldn’t sleep until you heard me drive into the driveway.
“Those days are gone now, Dad, but I remember them well because they are written in the little scrap book I found up in the attic. When no one is looking I’ll sneak back up there and dig out that little old book.
“I never really got around to telling you before, Dad, and it’s really too late now, but thanks, Pop. Whether you know it or not, you raised a good son. I hope I can do as well.
“Love forever, your son Tom.”