Open Letter to My Dad

Dear Dad,

I get frustrated with photography a lot. I get frustrated with calligraphy, and lettering, and painting a lot. When I do, I hear your voice, I see you smile. I see you leaning on the counter in our kitchen next to me, your head cocked to look at me just so, lowering your eyes from your inspection of whatever I was creating. Then, I see that grin of pride as you say, “This is beautiful. You should…ya’ know, you really should turn this into something. You should do this for work.”

I remember dismissing you time and again when you’d tell me that. I couldn’t do that. People didn’t really do that. Did they? Part of me wanted to take your words and run with them, the other part of me was terrified of failing. Failing isn’t so bad now. I’ve done it a time or ten, and I’ll fail a time or ten more. But, it’s still hard when what I see in my head isn’t what I see in my camera, and I can’t get it to work. It’s hard running a business while trying to create art, and sometimes I wish I could just ask you to fix it, although I know I need to do it on my own, now.

I hear your voice and see you next to me…

I hear your voice and see you next to me, and part of me starts to dismiss what you’re saying, yet again. You’re my dad, you had to say that, and you always will say that…right? Well, no. You’re an artist, too. You know what it is to feel this need to create, then to create, and feel as though it’s not right because it’s not the exact image (or rhythm in your case) in your head.

In that moment when I’m frustrated, I take a deep breath, I hear your voice, and I marvel that God made you, my dad, so caring, so tender, so courageous, and patient. I marvel at how you were right, you knew I needed to pursue this creative outlet of photography better than I may ever grasp. You knew because that same yearning lives in you.

Seeing your creative side come out is truly one of my favorite things. I felt so loved when you’d sit down at the trap set, belt out a musical number, or dance with me, all because I asked. I loved it even more when those outside our family would recognize your gift and ask you to share it. Sometimes you would, sometimes you wouldn’t, but I was always bursting with pride that I can barely contain even thinking about it now just to hear my dad sing.

You’re the most talented dad I know.

You get this wonderful glint in your eye when you’re singing or performing. It’s so jolly and joyful and inviting, and makes me want to join in. I remember it most when I’d ask you to sing me something from a musical in which you starred, but it’s the same twinkle that emerges whenever you wash the dishes and just sing. I love it.

You may not have gotten to pursue your creative dreams as you wanted, but thank you for always making sure I knew I was allowed, encouraged and able to go after mine. Your love, patience, and encouragement – you are the biggest reason I believed I could do this. You never let me think it would be simple. You never let me think it would be easy. But, you always ensured I knew that I was capable. Thank you, Dad.

Thank you. This gift you’ve given me is incredible, but I have one question.

Will you sing with me?

Your Little Girl,