I could really use one of your pep talks right now. Even though I know you would probably speak in clichés and say all the things I’ve heard you say, I would still really like to hear from you. There was always something about the pride and excitement in your voice when we would talk about my work and life goals. Whether you actually felt it or not, I always left our conversations feeling like you were very proud of me and like I could do anything. What a f-ing high.
You set a high bar. You were the first in your family to go on to university; you were an achiever, a doer, a man who floated easily through the social and academic world and seemed to commandeer any space in which you ever found yourself.
You used to remind me that I am a Peters, a person who follows through, who puts their best efforts forward, someone who gives 100% all the time. You raised me to have integrity and confidence, but also humility and grace. You were a man who championed loyalty to employers and organizations, even though you yourself were a trailblazer for your generation, having several distinct careers in your working life.
Even though you and I didn’t always agree, I admired your belief in a strong work ethic. I’m so glad you instilled that in us. In me.
All through elementary and high school, when I would come home with a test or paper that was a 90% or 95%, or even a 99%, you would say “well, where did the other X% percent go?” I think you were just teasing, but it really implanted in me a need, a desire, a compulsion, even, to achieve. I strived to make you proud, to prove that I really could do anything I set my mind to like you made me believe I could.
I’ve always been a risk taker and I know that you, in the strictest sense, were not. I know you have doubted (even judged harshly) some of my decisions, especially when it came to my career, but I also know that after the proverbial dust had settled, you were proud of me. I like to think maybe you even admired me a little for taking the leap of faith that you couldn’t (or wouldn’t).
But, at this particular moment, in this season of my life, I’m struggling with my confidence and ability to frankly, just do a good job. And I could really use a chat with you. I would love to hear you remind me that I’m tenacious, that I’m an achiever, and that I have talent. That’s the thing I miss the most. And even though you told me more than a couple of times, it always knocked me over to hear you tell me how talented you thought I was. I suppose you still think that. But not really because you are in the past now, you’re not here, you’re gone, so I’m just left with the memory of those conversations.
When you left us, I heard from several people in my life, in our lives, who told me how very proud you were of me. I know you were proud of all your children, and I love you the WORLD much for that. But it has always meant so much to me that you would speak so highly of me to others. I think that’s because think I was the kid you related to the least. And to be clear, I know that having things in common with one’s kid is not mutually exclusive to one’s level of love. I just mean, of all of us, you and I really didn’t have that much in common, certainly not as much as you did with my siblings. At least on the surface.
I’ll never forget the way you would tell the story of the first time you saw me perform. I sang a Tracy Chapman song in a school cabaret. You knew I sang, obviously, because I was in all the choirs, and you knew I was musical, because, well, comparatively, that was my “football.” But you always got tears in your eyes when you told the story of the first time you heard me sing, by myself, a cappella, in front of an audience. That is the feeling I’m yearning for now. That unfailing, full-of-love support that only a proud dad can give.
I dream about you all the time. In my dreams, you’re here, in present day, where I can touch you and talk to you and hug you. And then I wake up. Sometimes it takes a good 30 seconds for me to realize that I was dreaming. And then I feel your loss all over again. Often, those are the best 30 seconds of my day.
I can’t tell you how much I miss calling you in the middle of the day. You always sounded so delighted to hear from me. And even though I could practically recite what the conversation would be, verbatim, I never got tired of it. What I wouldn’t give to hear your voice on the other end of the line saying “Hi honey! Have you grown any?”
I miss you, dad.