“I thank you for the music and your stories of the road I thank you for the freedom when it came my time to go I thank you for the kindness and the times when you got tough And papa, I don’t think I said ‘I love you’ near enough” —Dan Fogelberg
My relationship with my father was not always perfect—what 44-year relationship is? Yet, every time I hear the Fogelberg song “Leader of the Band,” it makes me think of my dad. It sums up, in my view, what my father offered to me and my sisters as we grew up here on The Island.
Music. When I was younger, and even now, my father shared with me his love of music. My husband will say it isn’t “good music,” but it is distinctively his. As such, you can see me belting Broadway show tunes on any given Sunday during my six-mile run. Dad shared, without saying a word, that music, when done right, can turn a bad mood, good and tears into a smile.
Stories of the road. My dad shared his history. I only get where I am going because I know where he has been. He shared growing up in Queens during the Depression; living through World War II; his first job; his first major life decisions, such as joining the Air Force and the ROTC (“They were offering a free pair of shoes, Kelly! Of course I would sign up!”); his first date with my mom; his decision to start his own company; and more. I learned from what he has shared. History is like a foundation; knowing his history allows me to walk a bit more stably while creating my own “story.”
Freedom. Well, if you read this letter with any consistency, you’re aware that my parents offered me freedom. Like freedom to hop a Greyhound bus headed for a Massachusetts sleep-away camp at age 6 or freedom to pursue an acting career and live in N.Y.C. after finishing college. This freedom was made available to me even when freedom may have been the last thing in the world they wanted to give me. As a disclaimer, I should state that I was not so free that I wasn’t immediately punished if I broke my 10:30 p.m. curfew (a full hour earlier than that of my friends, I may add).
Kindness. Dad is kind—that is until he needs to get tough. My teenage years were turbulent, so I did see his tough side a lot during that period. Thank God for that, however, because had he not been so hard on me at times, I would have made poor choices when given the above-mentioned freedom. As a parent myself now, I get how that works.
hey are most often found on the golf course. I have many friends whose fathers have passed away, and they all say the same thing—that they wish they could say “I love you” just one more time. It is with honor to those fathers no longer living that I write to my own father (and mother) that “I don’t think I’ve said ‘I love you’ nearly enough!”