Dear Daughter, August 15, 2020
I’m sorry I disappointed you in the end.
In the beginning, at your beginning, when you had just been born, when I held you for the very first time, I felt something I’d never felt before. I hadn’t felt it in my youth. I didn’t feel it with my firstborn, with my first son. I didn’t feel it with my parents, or even my sister who I loved very much. It wasn’t the same as my 7-year girlfriend or your mother. When I held you, I felt the deepest feelings I’d ever known.
You know I had difficulty communicating my feelings. You tried to help me with that when I was alive. But now, it is not difficult. I love you, Lisa Michelle. I’ve always loved you, my dear daughter. Don’t hesitate to question what I would say to you now. You are hearing my voice and you know how proud of you I am.
When I was alive, I couldn’t show my love to you, especially as you grew into a young woman, and then when you became a rebellious woman, a woman with a distinct opinion and a path you needed to tread other than the one I wanted you on, I had difficulty letting go of the feeling that I’m your dad and I should guide you. I should ensure you are happy. I should point out your mistakes. I should make you zero in on how you are wasting time. These are all things I did when I was alive.
Remember how I constantly bugged you about money? Remember after telling you the world was your oyster, I then told you, “If you have to lay on your back to make money, go do it.” That one roasted you for a few decades and made the moments between us icy. Remember the many years I kept repeating, “Someday you’ll understand.” That only made you angrier. Whenever you brought up the subject, at first, I’d say you’re taking it out of context. Then I kept repeating, “I stand by that comment.” When we finally started talking about it, with a therapist present, I told you that money never mattered to me. You were shocked. You felt that all I cared about was money. That was then. Now, after you read mother’s and my marriage encounter journals you finally saw the real me. I’d been so responsible, careful, dedicated, and devoted. I put so much energy into doing the right thing I expected it of you and your brothers. When I really just wanted to play and travel with your mother!
Now I wish I had just one night of our existence together earlier when you and Steven would rush to me when I returned home from work, and each of you would stand on each of my feet, and hug onto my legs as I walked through the door. I loved you all so much. I told you but I couldn’t always show you. I was too busy controlling, planning, extending myself, and doing the best I could for my parents, my wife, my kids, my business partner, the community, and my clients.
That love I felt for you when I held you for the first time is all I ever wanted. Remember how I refused to look back into my past. I was fine if you went to therapy to deal with me (but not for too long) but I certainly didn’t want to go digging around in my past, in my own childhood for problems that were keeping us from having a good and healthy relationship.
Remember, when you took me to see your friend Karen? She hypnotized me (I didn’t know what she was doing but I liked her and did what she asked of me). Suddenly, I was back at that horrible Yoder Health Camp in Monrovia when I was seven years old because my young father was dying. I’d always been the good boy and I was loved, but suddenly my folks sent me to this camp. No matter how much I cried during my one phone call a week, begging Mom to come and get me she kept saying I was where I needed to be. They were told they couldn’t have another child. They knew he was dying, and then they had a little girl. My mother couldn’t deal with her dying husband – the love of her life, a new baby girl, and an always-curious little boy.
I’m sorry for all the times I hurt you, for all the times I made you doubt yourself when I was judgmental and non-supportive when you went through your struggles. Sure I helped you when the times were easy, and even that night when I came and stayed on your couch through one of your darkest nights, just to make sure you were okay. I know NOW when you tried your hardest for us to communicate and heal, how I wasn’t there for you. I wasn’t there for you the way my mother wasn’t there for me when I was sent to that bad boy camp where they made us kneel on the hardwood floor for hours if one of the boys had been out of line. It makes sense now how I’d never let you massage my knees, how I hated for my legs (except for you and Steven to ride on my legs) to be touched but I never could say no to a neck massage, how I always loved how your fingers would heal my cerebral encasement, how you scratched my back. Mother wouldn’t scratch my back.
I know we did have a way of speaking without words, but when you needed words the most, my mouth went in another direction. I didn’t always give you love. I gave you my advice, unsolicited.
Can you forgive me?
Now when you imagine I’m giving you the love you want and need, believe it. 1300%. You are not imagining this. This is real. Now, over here where I am beyond that old body of mine, I can talk to you. And daughter, I’m thrilled you hear me so clearly.
As Steve said on his card to you that arrived the day before he died,
Always know, I love you!
Your Daddy Ronny