Sunday, 27 October 2013

Father's Day: Tom Brokaw to Jennifer, Andrea and Sarah

Dear Jennifer, Andrea and Sarah,
As I think you know, Father’s Day has never been a big deal in my life because since each of you came into this world I’ve felt privileged to be your dad. I didn’t need a Sunday set aside in June to remind me.
As I said when your children were born, “They won the lottery because they’re now part of a loving family with a long tradition of caring for one another.”
In turn, I won the lottery first by marrying your mother and then watching in awe as you grew up. You weren’t perfect, and neither was I. But together we worked through the bumps and detours with the Brokaw candor that seems to be a genetic trait.
So on this Father’s Day you’ll make me proud again if you reach out to friends or others who have lost a father through illness, misfortune or a marriage gone bad.
It would be nice if you found a military family who lost a father in these long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I know many of them feel, correctly, the rest of the country cares too little about what they’ve been through.
If among your friends the talk turns to dads, I have no problem if you share some of the Tom-as-selfish-angry-or-just plain-goofy Dad.
Jen, I still remember that cogent protest note you wrote me when I thought you should appear at my performance with the Boston Pops instead of enjoying the height of your school’s social season.
Or when I said to our French exchange students, “Est vous bored?”
Andrea, did I yell when you left the keys to the family car on a back tire in the Bronx and it was promptly stolen? Maybe I would have been angrier had it not been just as promptly recovered.
Sarah, we’ll always have that New Year’s eve where I encountered your boyfriend walking through our house, drinking my precious magnum of Dom Perignon straight from the bottle.
Over the years I’ve learned so much more from you than you from me. As you know, I grew up in a testosterone-fueled family of three boys with a construction foreman father, and not even my saintly mother could adequately convey the complexities of coming of age as a girl-woman.
The physical changes, the onset of menstruation, the attitude of adolescent boys, the hair, the cosmetics, the shoes (!)—and then, the greatest gift of all, pregnancy and birth.
It was an honor to watch all of you go through that and emerge with such grace and your humor still intact.
So don’t worry about me on this Father’s Day. Share all you bring to life with children or families without a father.
After all, in too many families mom also has to be a dad – and you can help fill that role.
All my love, forever,

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