Notes to my father: messages from our community

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At our Sunday Gathering on Father’s Day, congregants were invited to think about their relationships with their fathers – and write down the message they wanted to give. We have transcribed them and published them here anonymously.

Before congregants wrote down their thoughts, Andy said the following:

“On this day set aside for celebrating fathers, I hope that we can point to and be glad of everything that is or was good and helpful about our own fathers. I hope that we can also know that their failings as fathers were not a reflection on who we are, but on who they became through the influences that surrounded their own young lives.

“And, whoever we are, with the influence we have upon one another and especially on young people, I hope that Father's Day can help us remember that human beings thrive on love and acceptance. I hope that we can grow to give these in ever-greater amounts to one another, to our parents, and to the young people who will create a more loving future.”

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Gratitude

“Hi Dad. I am grateful for everything you have provided. Although I wish you gave me more advice on developing my social skills and creating connections with people.”

“Thanks for giving me the spark to jump into things and the ability to bounce back.”

“I love you and think about you and miss you every day. I was so lucky to have you as my dad.”

“You are enough. You have always been enough. I love you.”

“Thank you for providing for me and giving me opportunities. Thank you also for spending time with me on Sundays and for taking care of Mum towards the end.”

“Thank you for everything you do for me. Thank you for showing me how to follow my dreams.”

“There is too much, really, that I want to say to you and I cannot seem to find the right words to use. I wish you could know it comes down to two words: thank you.”

“Despite our role as father-son is quite strict, I’m not feeling sorry for it. Our love doesn’t mean a fellow friendship. Our love doesn’t need of word. I’m very thankful despite of the limits between us.”

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“Thank you for the time you spent to teach me whether I was willing or unwilling and day when you had to work so hard.”

“Hi Dad, Thinking of you today and missing you. I’m glad I have a way of remembering you today and celebrating you. Thank you for contributing to who I am. I hope you’re proud.”

“Thanks Dad. Now that I’ve seen the spectrum of fathers available, I realise how lucky we were!”

“Thank you for turning your own adversity into an opportunity to change. You have changed for the better and with this a door has opened between you and I.”

“Thank you for teaching me the value of being responsible. If you were to do this again, try to be more in touch with emotions.”

“Thanks for everything you have done for me and for teaching me that great things can be achieved by someone in life without losing your soul. Love you always.”

“Thank you for encouraging me to be me!”

“Thank you for loving, accepting and believing in me.”

“Thanks Dad for being such a good father in so many ways, being such an important influence and helping me be strong and resilient and being able to do the things I learnt from you!”

Reflection

“Dad, do not be scared of getting close to other people, including your own children. You are kind, smart, funny and talented – and there is nothing to fear.”

“There’s never been any point trying to talk to you, so why should I start now?”

“I wonder why you had children. The family story is that you really wanted to marry my mother and in those days children were expected but not inevitable. Did you discuss it, as a couple? What did you expect of fatherhood? And were your expectations fulfilled?”

“I wish we’d had more time to get to know each other before you passed away when I was 6 years old. I want you to know that Mum did an amazing job and is my best friend, but my brother has never really gotten over your death and I don’t know how to support him.”

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“What a waste.”

“Deep, memories of you struggling to succeed.”

“You were hard on me Dad but you died too young and I know you loved me. From this distance I know you loved me dearly.”

“You are the kindest man I know and you have inspired me to always love and respect others.”

“My father always said how good Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons was. But I never bothered. Recently, I heard a radio adaptation and thought he was right. But I had to become a father in order to appreciate him. Now I miss him and wish I had listened to him.”

“Dear Dad, I know it wasn’t your fault. I know you couldn’t have done better. I wish you could have received the love and nurture from your own parents.”

“I loved you passionately, you were so funny, so vibrant. Your rhetoric was frightening when you called me a parasite on the household. But you showed me the stars.”

“I wish you were there for me when I was growing up.”

“After you died, your younger brother gave me some letters you’d written, years ago. It was a thoughtful gift, but it made me realise how little I’d known of the real you. I believe this was your choice, but I wish I knew why.”

“I am proud of what you do and who you are.“

“I wish I liked you more often. But I know that sometimes I do like you. I wish you would be more genuine.”

Reconciliation

“I’m sorry I never took the time to really get to know the real you – rather than the stiff, formal rather distant cardboard cut-out of a father who I remember. I think I withheld love for you which might have provided you with the means to fully express your love for me.”

“In so many ways you’ve been everything a child should have had. Thank you. As for your shortcomings – I’m sorry if I’ve punished you too much for them.”

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“Reconciliation.”

“I wish you knew how to love me for who I am. But I forgive you for not knowing how.”

Memories

“Thank you for all your love, patience and limericks. (Growing up my dad wrote limericks for each of our birthdays and other important holidays).”

“I accept your flaws and mistakes. Thank you for the bedtime stories, watching and playing football, the big hugs and your love. I love you. Xx”

“I love you for: being willing to give up your life for more; building things for me; the copper bottom; opening my presents at my Christmas (being my special grown-up); Dad jokes; wearing Fahrenheit aftershave; being the most popular, interesting father of all; providing for me so well in all aspects; keeping yourself young and fit and healthy; making me laugh and cry and rage; our robust conversations on all topics.”

“Let’s go to dance. I’m sure it will be fun!”

“John, thank you for working so hard and for teaching me about electronics and computers. Eddie, I love you and I will miss you ‘til the day I die. Losing you as a child is the great sadness of my life.”

“Thanks for teaching me spirituality of nature and all the baseball games.”