I don’t know if you still read the ol’ site, Dad, although I expect that you do. When Kari and I first bandied this idea about, you were the first person other than her that I wanted to write to. I started to save this for the end of the run, but I decided not to do so.
For a long time, I did not understand our relationship. I think that this is because I’m a lot like Mom in a lot of ways, and I really was when I was a kid. When you combine that with the demands that were placed upon you by the U.S. Air Force, well, it was hard for me to understand who you really were. I knew that you loved me a lot, but I didn’t really internalize it.
I never doubted my love for you, either. You were away from us our last year in Ohio, having take a job in Mississippi where we would join you after the year was done. This was hard for me, especially because you were the only parent that we had in in the summer of 1990 while Mom was down here in Alabama with her dad before he died. I went from having you all the time to not having you at all. I know that it was very hard for you, and I know that you tried as hard as you could to find a job before the school year started so that we could all stay together. It didn’t happen that way. That’s how it goes. You were doing what you knew and did best: working your ass off to provide for us.
There were a lot of times when I missed you that year, but two stand out–when I scored my first (and only) goal in rec league soccer when I was in this hospital with whatever weird viral infection I had. I remember looking for you on the sidelines as I was running back to the defensive half of the field. I know that you would have loved to have been there, because you liked to see my hard work be rewarded. And when I was sick in the hospital, I was scared and I wanted you there. I know that you would have loved to have dropped everything to be there, but you couldn’t. [Hey, I was okay. I got to watch a lot of the run-up to the first Gulf War on CNN because I was sick.]
We moved to Mississippi, and I didn’t really like it because it was a big change for me school-wise. [I think we all realized later that I probably could have started high school right when we moved there and skipped the two grades where I did nothing I hadn't already done in Ohio.] You had found a way out: MSMS, where I would finish school. All four of those years in Forest schools, I worked my ass off because I didn’t want to stay there any longer than I had to. I didn’t want to leave you and Mom, but I needed MSMS like I needed air. You knew that, and you made sure that I would get there.
You were behind me when I wanted to move here to go to school, and you wanted to support me however you could, in ways that most Baby Boom parents in Mississippi couldn’t. You made sure that I studied hard and looked for a job in my field. You helped me to become the engineer that I am. I never will forget going home for the first time and realizing that you were asking me for professional advice.
We grew closer after Mom’s stroke, but we still didn’t talk on the phone for any length of time. Then we get to last fall and everything that happened with me. Since then, you have been my rock. You’ve given me moral support about the job search and other things that I won’t discuss with an open audience reading. We’ve gone from a time when we’d struggle to talk for more than a couple of minutes to last night, when we talked for 23. Out of all of the pain and heartbreak of this last year—and we both know that there’s been a lot of that—getting this relationship with you has been worth all of that. I really know you now, and you probably feel like you know me more deeply as well.
Lately, I have noticed that I act more like you than I do Mom. I remember telling her about the letter I recently wrote to cvs/Caremark for a terrible customer-service experience that they gave me, about how I had to help them pull their heads out of their asses to do the job that they should have been doing for me. Mom started to laugh, and I said, “I know, I sound like Dad.” A few years ago, I would have wondered if I was doing something wrong.
Now, I know that I’m doing something very, very right. I’m Sam Morris’s son, and damn can you ever tell within the first five minutes.
I love you, Dad, with all that I’ve got in me.