Dear Dad: On the World We Create for Our Children

Dear Dad,

I’m sitting here in my little house in Los Angeles, wishing more than I have in a long time that you were still here. Some terrible things have happened in our country and I don’t know which way to turn. I feel angry and confused and sad. So, so sad. I suddenly don’t know who to be or how to be and nothing, nothing feels right.

It’s getting late and I’m tired but I had to write to you. Almost seventy years ago today, your entire life changed when a bomber plane you were piloting during WWII was attacked and shot to pieces in the air. You lost half of your crew in that attack and you were forced to parachute to the ground below, only to be captured by German soldiers and detained for the remaining six months of the war. This incident shaped everything about the man you would become. It made you brave and wise and compassionate. It made you strong and courageous and so, so generous.

I still remember when I finally got through to you the morning of the attacks on 9/11. Me calling from my cell phone in New York to your little condominium in Southern California. I’ve never thought about how worried you must have been about me, until just now, and to think of it causes tears to stream down my cheeks. I had tried all morning to call but the phones weren’t working, and I wasn’t able to get through to you for the first hours after the attacks. I imagine you now at home in front of the television, worried for your young twenty-four year old daughter in Manhattan.

I had never thought much about a parent’s worry. Until I became one.

And then again this week in an even deeper way.

But that morning on September 11 I finally got through to you, and I was crying and so scared, and you were you. Calm and wise, telling me that everything would be okay, even if you weren’t really sure if it would be.

And now I want to call you again. I want you to tell me that everything is going to be okay. That I’m going to be okay. That my sweet, young daughters are going to be okay.

But I can’t. You aren’t here anymore.

I’ll never forget the voice you used with me when I was scared or sad. It was a voice I never heard you use with anyone else. You were patient and kind and gentle and, no matter what, you always made me feel like everything was going to be okay.

I know that Greg and I have to be that for our girls now. We have to be calm and kind and strong and brave, and we have to create a world where everything is okay again. Because that’s what parents must do for their children. We take care of the world for them, until they can do it themselves.

If we are so lucky.

Thank you for the lessons. I miss you so, so very much.

With love, and unwavering admiration,

Claire

3 comments

3 Comments

  • Posted December 18, 2012 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    oh claire, such a beautiful letter. your father had such an interesting life from the sounds of it – i can’t wait to dig into your archives more and learn more. thank you for sharing.

  • Posted December 18, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    His voice still stays with me, as does his gentle, loving and caring nature. No doubt you will pass all that on to your girls.

  • Michelle
    Posted December 19, 2012 at 3:23 am | Permalink

    Such a moving piece thank you Claire. My wish is that all parents provide that safe, loving and protected environment that your and my parents provided and that you and Greg give your gorgeous girls. Sometimes it feels like a such a slap in the face when some parents don’t do this and couples like us, who have been desperately tying to have a child for many, many years, don’t get the opportunity to share the love we have in this way.

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