Dear Dad This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

     My most vivid memory of you will always be when I was five years old and you walked up to me at the campground. That was the first time I ever saw you, but I ran to you screaming anyway. I have always been surprised by how I reacted that day; I didn’t know you, but I guess that didn’t matter because you were my daddy.

I don’t remember what we did that day; the next thing I remember it was seven years later, and I was 12. I hadn’t heard a single word from you. I thought about you and sometimes wished I knew you, and in a way was disappointed that you never tried to contact me. I knew that you lived only two hours away but I never thought of asking Mom how to get a hold of you. I figured if she knew, she would tell me.

People would ask, “Do you wish you had a dad?” I’m amazed now how smart my answer was: “I’ve never had a dad. You can’t miss what you never had.” Hearing a little girl say that would shock some, but to me, it made sense, and still does.

All along I thought that there was no way to contact you. Mom believed you didn’t want to know me, so we never tried. You thought Mom didn’t want me to know you, so you never tried. I think it’s pathetic that we never had a relationship because of this misunderstanding.

When your friend contacted me through Mom, I was so excited. This lady, whom I barely knew, knew you! I couldn’t wait to ask her all about you. She gave me your number and I called immediately. When you didn’t answer, I had to leave a message, which I hated. It was Father’s Day and I wanted to say, “Happy Father’s Day,” but I messed up and said, “Happy Birthday.” It was embarrassing, but I hoped you wouldn’t mind.

I remember hearing your voice when you called me back. It sounded so familiar, like my subconscious remembered it. Almost like I had known that voice my whole life.

Not too long after that, we decided to meet. I know we both felt sick to our stomachs at the idea - we had just met over the phone, and now we were going to meet in person? Even with the nervousness, we were both ecstatic with the idea. Finally, I was going to have a dad.

The day we chose was beautiful, sunny with a cool breeze. As I pulled into your driveway, I was amazed - your house was perfect! I loved everything about it, from how tiny and comfortable it was, to how extraordinary it looked sitting right there in front of me. I knew you had built it, and looking at it that sunny day, I almost started to cry. I hadn’t even seen you, and already I was a wreck.

You seemed so nervous, but at the same time, overcome with happiness. As I saw you staring at me with a look of amazement, I knew that you loved me, and that I loved you, too. You were my dad, and nothing was going to stop that, not anymore.

The summers and winters after that meeting were packed with good times. We had so much fun goofing around. You made me laugh and I loved it. Dad, you were the kind of person who was totally carefree. This amazed me; I was used to a hectic lifestyle. I loved seeing you any chance I had and am so glad I was granted the time to know you as my dad.

I will always remember swimming at the locks where the water was so peaceful on top and rough and loud beneath. I will remember how you taught me to stand up straight and lean back so the water would pour in front of me. I loved that feeling, and I loved that you showed me. Thank you for being there for me and showing how much you appreciated me being your daughter.

I don’t remember the last time I saw you, probably because I didn’t think it would be the last. When you got sick last summer, I knew it was bad. I talked to you on the phone and you told me you’d be fine, but I knew you were just saying that to make me feel better, and that really you were leaving me. I was upset and didn’t want you to go. I wish so much that I had talked to you longer, but I couldn’t talk without starting to cry, and I didn’t want to upset you.

Dad, meeting you was the best thing that has happened in my life. If I hadn’t gotten to know you before you passed, I would feel so incomplete. Even though we only had a few years together, I thank God for giving us that time. The hours we spent together were some of my favorite. I hope that you know how much you mean to me. I truly love you, and always will. Thank you for showing me what a dad is supposed to be.

I only found out you died a couple of days after it happened. I didn’t even know that you had been re-admitted to the hospital. I didn’t even cry, but not because I didn’t love you or care. I think it was because I was shocked. I knew it was coming - we all did - but this was so soon. I didn’t know a lot of the people at your funeral, but that didn’t matter because we all cared about you. The service was beautiful and there were pictures of us everywhere. I will always remember that day.

Mom and I went to your house; it was empty and lonely but still alive with your spirit. I know I will return there again and again just so that I can feel closer to you. I hope you are looking down on me and feeling proud of what I’m becoming. I’m trying my best to move on.

You are always on my mind, whether I’m thinking about the past or the future, whether I’m remembering how you looked that first day we met or the last time we spoke. I love you, Daddy. I always have and I always will. You opened my mind to how the simple things in life can bring the most happiness. I wish that as I grow you look down on me, and my future family with joy. You are the reason I am what I am today. Thank you, Dad. I love you.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Lily">This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jan. 11 at 2:07 am
i love this so much!
EMMA 789 said...
Feb. 10, 2011 at 4:37 am
I READ THIS BCOZ Emily is my sisters name but realy u made me to cry when i read this ,bcoz i was far from my dad .I JUST LOVED IT and i  CANT FORGET your script. 
dolly 92 said...
Feb. 10, 2011 at 4:28 am
The way EMILY had writen it made me feel my dads presence even when i was far from my dady .EMILY I LOVE YOU.
SMWells said...
Dec. 13, 2010 at 12:49 pm
I just love this. I realy apreciate youir sharing it. And I hope the best for your future happyness.
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