An Open Letter To My Father

If Only I Didn’t Have To Write This

1971

I miss you.

I remember how you used to wait outside of my school every Friday afternoon in Brooklyn Heights. You were never late. My friends thought you were a fucking legend.

I remember when you told me that we had to fly to California right away because Mom was going to die. I remember that you were right next to me the entire time.

I remember when you told me that my grandmother, my mother’s mother, died and we needed to get to Short Hills right away. I remember that you were right next to me the entire time.

I remember when you didn’t tell me that you were having a liver transplant, but I found out anyway and made it to the hospital before you woke up. I remember that you couldn’t talk, but you pointed to the picture of my kids that I left at your feet while you recovered.

I remember the very moment you took your last breath and I selfishly ignored your DNR and had them try to resuscitate you. I know you don’t hold it against me. I was right next to you the entire time.

I remember your old work phone number and wish I could dial 914–666–7600 and talk to you.

I remember how you always took me for a turkey club followed by a butterscotch sundae. And you never rushed me while I scooped every ounce of that butterscotch into my pie hole.

I am you.

I told my kids a lot of self-made stories growing up and many of them involved characters farting or pooping. It’s just funny.

I drive with my foot over the brake every time I go through an intersection.

I sound exactly like you, with less excessive sniffing.

I also asked my children about their bowel movements growing up. I’m sorry I acted so annoyed when you asked me repeatedly if I was “regular.” Actually, no I’m not, that was really annoying and embarrassing.

I make lists every day, but I don’t make them all on separate tiny pieces of paper and leave them next to the back door so every time someone opens the door they all blow onto the ground.

I would do anything to protect my children. But I also annoy them by loving them so much.

I feel good about myself. I learned that from you.

I appreciate you.

I remember everything you ever said to me even though at the time it seemed like I didn’t care.

I remember that you gave me a credit card when I was 15, for emergencies only, which I interpreted to mean Air Jordans. I remember that you didn’t get mad at me although you did go on and on about how sneakers shouldn’t be $100. Do you know how much they would be worth now? I was investing.

I remember when you came to pick me up at my friend’s house after a sleepover and I didn’t want to go home. I was so angry that I punched you as hard as I could in the arm right in front of my friend and his dad. I remember that you didn’t even flinch and never even said another word about it. I still hate myself for doing that.

I remember when you bought me a new car before I even had a driver’s license. I remember on the way home we stopped to get gas and you asked me to get out of the car so you could teach me how to pump gas. I was embarrassed because my friend was in the car with us and I refused to get out. I have beaten myself up over this moment for 30 years now. I know you forgave me right away and probably laugh about it wherever you are.

I remember the night that I got drunk at a friend’s house and made the right decision to stay over, but forgot to call you. I remember what your face looked like when I showed up the next morning. I’m sorry I forgot to call because I know you didn’t sleep.

I remember how you talked me down from every manic episode after a breakup. I remember how you always made me laugh and helped me to understand that there will always be another love.

I remember how you looked when I graduated college and law school. You were so proud of me. I was always so proud of you.

1997

I know you.

I know that you didn’t want to die. I know that you wanted to play another round of golf, go to the gym and then look in the mirror at your biceps before watching Curb Your Enthusiasm.

I know that you thought you were being cool when you asked me if I humped my girlfriend. I am sorry to say that it wasn’t cool and I never knew anyone else who actively used the word hump.

I know that you believed in me. I know that every time you drove from Westchester to New Jersey to see my high school basketball games, you did it because you wanted to be there.

I know that you will never know how much people loved you. I know that you will never know how many people still think of you every day.

I know that you see me when I sit at your grave in Sag Harbor. I know that you can feel how much I love you.

I know you were a better person than your father. I hope I will be a better person than you. I hope my son and daughter will be better people than me.

I know that you were teaching me every chance you got.

I didn’t listen to you.

The most important thing you ever said to me was. “Don’t rush life.” I didn’t listen to this for so many years, but I am starting to come around to it now.

Because you taught me.

Because you loved me and didn’t want me to miss out on anything.

My father died on September 15, 2004. His name was Steven Charles Greene and he really was a fucking legend.