Dear Father, Where Were You When I Needed You?

*This letter changes tense frequently. Some moments I was right there.

Dear Father,

Where were you when I needed you?

I remember bits and pieces of a time when you were in my life. It’s like a broken plate that has been smashed on the ground and I could only find bits and pieces. It’s like I’ve spent my entire life trying to find the other pieces in efforts to gain more of an understanding of you. Of me. Of us.

Where were you when I needed you?

I remember your scent. The fragrance of Grey Flannel cologne permeated our large apartment in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York. I loved that fragrance. That same fragrance is something I wear almost everyday. Don’t mind me, just trying to pick up some more pieces of that plate I mentioned earlier.

Where were you when I needed you?

I remember your big hands. I have your hands. I remember you putting that big right hand of yours to my back side when I lit the garbage on fire. Not sure how I got into all of that. Bits and pieces.

I remember your diastema. I have the same gap between my two upper teeth. Braces got rid of it for a while, but I lost my retainer, and I believe mom got tired of telling me what to do. So the space came back much like my thoughts of you. Bits and pieces.

Where were you when I needed you?

You were there in the beginning. I remember you fixing things around our home. That’s what it was, right? A home? Then you were gone. In and out of my life. Bits and pieces. You let someone else start fixing things around the house. I didn’t like it at first.

Where were you when I needed you?

I started baseball for HCJ. Wasn’t very good in the beginning. I could’ve used some help. How was I supposed to swing that thing? A catch with you would’ve been nice. You let him teach me. He did a good job, but I wanted you to teach me.

Where were you when I needed you?

Love came around for the first time with all those weird feelings. I broke her heart. I thought the grass was greener on the other side. I tried to go back to the original lovely grass. She wasn’t having it. Good for her. That hurt.

Where were you when I needed you?

Leaving for California. Last chance, Dad. I’ll wait right here on this couch. I’ll check to see if you’re coming. I know mom just called you to let you know where and how to reach us. I heard her give you the address and phone numbers. She always did with every moving extravaganza. Still no call. And very few visits. Bits and pieces.

Where were you when I needed you?

Think I will let go for a while. California is great. The girls are beautiful and I have some really great friends. I’ve been hitting the herb pretty heavy. I remember you used to as well. I know it’s not the greatest habit, but it somehow makes me feel close to you. Bits and pieces.

I have a temper. Don’t like it when people try to put me in my place. I’ve had a few fights. Won most of them. Don’t like hurting others. The loving feels better. Mom said you had a temper. I remember it. She also said you were very loving. I don’t remember that as much. I’m a little jealous that mom got to experience more of that with you than I did.

Where were you when I needed you?

Where were you when I graduated high school? Where were you when I traveled around the nation, and music was such a big part of my life? Why weren’t you a big part of my life? Just bits and pieces.

Where were you when your granddaughters were born? Where were you when I got married? Where were you when I graduated college and became a teacher? Where were you when I was dealing with cancer? It would have been nice to share all these things with you. Instead, all I got was bits and pieces.

Where were you when I needed you?

I suppose I can’t be mad anymore. I don’t think I ever was. I know now that the process of becoming a man is no easy task. I’m sorry life was tough on you, but I needed you. I’ve heard nothing but great things about you. Mom said you were her only true love. Wish I could’ve experienced you a little more. But I’m grateful either way. I do appreciate the little time we had. Thank you for coming back into my life.

It felt like I just got you back and then you were being called to transition into God knows what, an astral being? Reincarnated perhaps? Who knows?

The truth is I forgive you. I forgave you a long time ago. Mark Twain once said, “ Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that crushed it.” I hope you carry my fragrance of violet with you wherever you are the same way I carry your fragrance.

I have a new plate now. All is intact. No pieces to be found. I’m a good father and I am always here when the girls need me.

Truth is, you’re with me more now than ever. I feel you more now than ever. I am you and you are me.

I’m doing great things in this world as I’m sure you know. In all that I do, you are there with me right when I need you most. Thank you.

I love you wholeheartedly. No more bits and pieces.

Love and light always.

Your son,


Like what you read? Give Just James a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.