Today has been hard. I'm not exactly sure why. It's not your birthday, or the day you left. It's just another holiday I don't usually think about much anymore. But for some reason, it's all as fresh as yesterday.
You drank too much, and didn't take very good care of yourself. I don't believe those things killed you, but they didn't help. It doesn't make me angry - just very sad. I selfishly feel cheated of all the time I would have liked to spend with you as we both grew old. Now I'll never be coerced into playing dominoes with you, like you were with Paw Paw all those days.
We didn't always understand one another. I wonder when it would have dawned on us that it was because we were really more alike than we cared to admit? I see so much of you in the man I grew to be. I often wonder what you would think of the way things have turned out. Would you be proud? Or would you insist I could do better? Probably, it would be both, because that's how I feel.
There's so much I wish I could tell you. I wish you could see all the things I've written and created. I wish you could meet all the amazing friends I've made. I wish you could have seen me fall in love for the first time. I just wish you were HERE.
But most of all, I wish you knew how I've tried to live my life. You always believed in your friends, even when no one else thought they deserved it. You saw the good in people, even when everyone insisted there wasn't any. You were a man who tried to do the right thing by everybody. If I have managed that even once in awhile, I like to think you'd tell me I did alright.
I hope you knew, through it all, I loved and respected you. You were the man who stood in newsstands all over the country while I looked for comic books. You were the man who had to give up the only TV so I could watch some cartoon. Later on, you gave me a ride home every week when I didn't have a car or a license. It took me a long time to understand the sacrifices you made, just because I was your son.
Your example taught me so much. Sometimes, you taught me what not to do, but I think maybe those were the most important lessons of all. You were a mixture of good and bad, humble and egotistical, a maddening yet inherently lovable guy who claimed that he would watch any movie as long as it was a Western, idolized John Wayne even though he was a liberal, and once took his date (and future wife) to see I AM CURIOUS (YELLOW)...and then promptly fell asleep.
You were my father, Jerry Elam, and I wouldn't trade you in for another one if I had the chance.
It's been 15 years, and I still think about you every day. Happy Father's Day, you ol' outlaw. I miss you.
Say hello to Maw Maw and Paw Paw, Rhonda, and Uncle Larry for me.