With Father’s Day tomorrow, I wanted to take the time to pay tribute to my father. My father’s name was Phillips Brooks Marsden, but he was Brooks to his family and friends. He was the type of man that could seem intimidating at first, but was a teddy bear comedian to all who knew him.
Ten years ago, on July 11, 2007, he passed away suddenly. This time of year can be especially emotional for me as Father’s Day is a little bit of a double whammy. Not only is it a day where my father is no longer here to celebrate with, but Father’s Day 2007 would turn out to be the last time I saw him before he died.
All this week he has been on my mind. And the number ten has stood out in my mind. Ten years is a significant amount of time to have missed in a person’s life. When he passed away, I was still trying to become an adult, let alone the person I am today. While I try to remain thankful for all the time that I did have with him, it’s hard sometimes to not feel sad when thinking about all the time I should have had with him. I have so many amazing memories of my father that I treasure, but unfortunately he missed so many significant moments in my life: my graduation from grad school, when I met my now husband, our engagement, our wedding day, when we bought our first house, and the birth of his grandson.
One of the most significant things to me about losing my father so suddenly and while I was so young, is that I feel that I wasn’t given the opportunity to thank him for all that he did for me. All those things that a parent does for their children, that in many ways, you can only be truly thankful for when you see how hard it is to do those same things for your own children. So in honor of Father’s Day and of him, here are the things I wish that I could say to him.
- You set a strong and solid example. You showed me what it was to work hard for your family while also carving out time to be a family. Whether it was a simple meal together at the end of what was probably a long day or taking us on trips, you made it happen. Thank you for giving me my first example of what love truly was.
- Thank you for teaching me to be grateful and showing me love and kindness towards others. I remember you and mom always being active in the community whether it was through volunteering or time spent helping in church or helping a neighbor, you never made it about yourself. You always took the time to help someone else. You set me on the path of acceptance of others; a lesson I am proud to be passing on to Gavin.
- You set the stage for long lasting friendships. I always remember you and mom making time for your friends. Whether it was hosting dinners or throwing parties, you showed me how important friendships are. Because of this example, I am lucky to have many amazing people in my life who have seen me through ups and downs and have become my chosen few, my soulmates, and my ride or die. It was those long and important friendships that led me to my husband and the life that I have now.
- Even though I had no idea at the time, you taught me the beginnings of what it was to be environmentally aware. I can remember recycling at a very early age when we lived in New York. It was just what we did. You and mom didn’t make a big deal out of it, it was just something that was a part of our every day life. And while we could recycle at the curb in New York, when we moved to Georgia curbside recycling wasn’t a thing. (Still isn’t in some counties unfortunately.) But you and mom didn’t just throw in the towel. Instead, you found a local recycling center and made weekly trips to make sure we were continuing to do our part in whatever way we could.
- Thank you for giving me my first lesson on how to love and care for animals. Growing up, we had horses and no matter what, the horses (and all our other animals), always came first. They ate before we did-period. It didn’t matter if there was three feet of snow on the ground. We got up and went down to the barn before anything else.
- Thank you for showing me how to laugh at myself. Thank you for being silly and showing me that you can be an adult and still have fun and let loose. And thank you for showing me that that silliness sometimes required costumes. This is a tradition Jordan and I love to be carrying on!
- Above all, thank you for encouraging me to grow into my own person. You allowed me to take risks, make mistakes, and follow my heart even when you probably wanted to intervene. I laugh writing this because I wonder if my conservative father (who use to hint at the fact that I might just turn into a republican after buying my first house) sometimes wonders where this hippie daughter of his came from, but I know that you would have been proud that I am an individual. So thank you for setting me on this path. I hope along the way I have made you proud.
Happy Father’s Day, Daddy. I love you so much.