Dear Dad, Letters 8-10

reveling in delights and pleasures even in the face of inevitable death and preventable separation

A note: This post frankly talks about cancer and death.

This autumn my dad asked me to start a project with him. I suggested we write letters to each other based on how he used to write me cards as a kid. We’ve sent a few back and forth. It’s been beautifully healing.

We’ve both agreed to share them publicly. We feel it may bring some insight for others.

These are letters 8-10.

More will come.

Image description: a selfie snapped at 7:16am on Sunday, November 22, 2020, after having written, typed, and sent Letter 10 to my dad. I am centered in the photo, and I am warmly smiling with closed lips and bright eyes. The right side of the photo is a warm magenta. The right side is a cool blue. Blurred out behind me on the far right side in the middle is a gold skull. My hair and beard are disheveled.

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Dearest Jason:

I have read and reread your last letter with great emotions. You seem to embrace so much depth of introspective thoughts. In my reflections of James Whitcomb Riley’s prose, especially “ My Philosofy”, a part of me has always been to ponder and reflect what, who and why I am who I am. Sometimes I believe, okay, most of the time I believe that God or the omnipotent power has infused this in my psyche. I do believe in unexplained phenomenons that can not be rationalized. The presence of other near and guiding us; the power of intuition; and the necessary ability to regroup and reconsider our surroundings. It has not come without out stumbling, falling and learning. You have been a huge part of my growth. Our family has been a wonderful kaleidoscope of what the world surrounding us is. To take in, digest, accept and challenge has been sometimes painful, but so much more rewarding. My journey now is arduous and challenging, but gives me the opportunity to soul search in a way I never had before. I thought I had, but not to this depth. My composition in this email is ragged and unsure, but I hope you understand. All of my children mean the world to me, as do my grandchildren. I am so blessed. The relationship that I have with my siblings and their families means so much to me also. My friendships mean a lot to me also: some that challenge me greatly, but help me understand a different point of view. The true essence of Jesus is to embrace all people. We are told he was most comfortable with the sinners and less with the self righteous. That is where I want to be. Other prophets and sacreds I wish I had a better understanding of, but feel a kindred soul toward. Perhaps in my afterlife everything will be much clearer.

I love you just as you are and know you are perfectly you. You draw me in to your love more and more each day! ❤️❤️❤️ Tell John I love him so much!


Letter 9

Thanks, Dad, for your letter. Wanted you to know that I got it and read it. Love you.


Letter 10

Dear Dad: 

It's Sunday morning, November 22, 2020, and I've been up since 2am. I thought about you all day yesterday. I so wish I could just hop on a plane and see you. And I know that just isn't possible right now. I fucking hate COVID. I am fucking angry and frustrated by how lacking ALL our government is in caring for ALL of our neighbors, especially those who have vulnerabilities. I know there is another way we can be. Our government doesn't need to be so cruel, uncaring, violent, and oppressive. It chooses to be so. And we elect it to be. 

But enough about COVID and our government and politics. There are so many other things in this world that cause wonder and delight, which I guess is a politics, too. Being so far away and facing the uncertainty of death, I hope I can provide some ways to still dream, cry, laugh, reminisce. There is so much pleasure still to live, even if we can't be in the same room. 

Here are some things that delighted me yesterday: 

  • cuddling with John while crying with him assuring me that what I need is what I need and those needs can shift and change from moment to moment, ... 

  • watching the following movies throughout the day: 

    • Dick (1999) with Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Wiliams; Absolutely hilarious mocking of Deep Throat and Nixon that's still too relevant;

    • Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011). So much fun with great storytelling and effects that's set in San Francisco; plus, APES;

    • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984); Animated environmental fantasy where the humans have to wear masks because the air from the toxic forest is poisonous and spreading, . . .

  • cooking spaghetti with Italian sausage. . . yum, . . . 

  • letting my mind just wander for hours sometimes with music and sometimes in silence, . . .

  • talking with Bob about politics and life and COVID, . . .

  • chatting with you about music and learning that you noticed and liked the socialist lyrics of The Guess Who. 

Since you asked about music, I thought I would share with you some musicians / bands and their albums that I think you might like too. I'm including them in the order I thought of them. There's a certain poetry to them that moved me. 

The last album, Blackstar by David Bowie, is his final album that he made for his 69th birthday. Two days after it was released, he died of liver cancer. It's an incredibly beautiful album that's already stirred tears. It's taking on new significance now that it's on this list I made for you. 

So . . . here's some music I think will delight and please you. 

I'm listening to "The Mark" by Cold Specks from I Predict a Graceful Explosion as I finish this letter. The lyrics seem incredibly fitting to close. 

He left his mark upon my skin
Said I've lost my loose heart
To the cold, cold wind
Swallow me, hunted down
I didn't know I've sent him out
Cross your heart
Remember me
A good father
And a bad seed
I left it all
I left it clean
I'm a collection of memories

Take my body home, take my body home
Cross your heart
Remember me
A good father
And a bad seed
Take my body home, take my own body home
Take my body home
Take my body home

I love you so incredibly much, and I so wish I could be there with you in person. 

Instead, I'll see you in our dreams and delights and memories. 

You are forever loved,


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Music of Delight and Pleasure

Sci-Fi Lullabies by Suede

Pretty in Black by Raveonettes

Blacklisted by Neko Case

I Predict a Graceful Explosion by Cold Specks

Love Not Money by Everything But the Girl

Voice by Alison Moyet

Wild Is the Wind by Nina Simone

We’ll Never Turn Back by Mavis Staples

I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise by Bettye LaVette

Blackstar by David Bowie