May 8, 2008
Just the other day I was sitting and talking with a friend and we began to talk about our children and how kids love and believe in their dads so much. I told him that in many ways they look at their dad as a superhero. In that moment I recalled a moment I had with my kids and I began to tell my friend about the day I was taking a walk with my son, your grandson, who was 6 years old at the time and my daughter, your granddaughter, who was 8 years old at the time. During the walk I was doing what most dads do, I was talking about these amazing feats of strength that I was able to perform and I was all to ready to show it off. So as we approached a black Chevy Yukon, I offered to lift the back end of the truck because I am dad, “the superhero!!” But there was something a little different about this walk and there was something a little different about the look in my daughter’s eyes this time when I offered to perform my amazing feat of strength. The difference was very simple and very clear, my daughter knew I couldn’t pick up the back end of that truck. She looked me straight into my eyes and said with a smile on her face, “no you can’t daddy but I still love you.” I was crushed to say the least. The smile on her face or better yet the smirk on her face and the words from her mouth were showing me and telling me all I needed to see and all I needed to hear about how she felt, however, I didn’t want to see it nor did I want to hear it, but truth be told, I saw and heard it loud and clear. She simply said, “no you can’t daddy but I still love you.” Now, what I heard was totally something different. What I heard was, “daddy you are no longer my superhero and I still love you but just not as much as before.” I also recalled thinking, “I know I can’t lift the back of that truck but how does she know that?”
My daughter and I, recently had a big laugh recalling that moment and that prompted me to think of you and some of the memories from my childhood and sure enough, I too, thought you were a superhero as well. After thinking about it a few more days and encountering a wave of emotions from happy to sad and everything in between, I decided to write you a letter.
Dad, I never wanted a superhero, I just wanted you, my dad.
Dad, I can remember as a kid sitting on top of your shoulders and thinking I was on top of the world and in my little world, I was. You were my superhero.
Dad, I can remember us going to games together and everyone coming up to speak to you and to shake your hand. You were my superhero.
Dad, I can remember us walking to the corner store to get my favorite soda (grape) and my favorite snack (chips). You were my superhero.
Dad, I can remember spending weekends with you and crying to stay one more day and you would keep me one more day. You were my superhero.
Dad, I can remember you looking down at me and teaching me the jab hook combo. You were my superhero.
Dad, I can remember you telling me the Dallas Cowboys were your favorite team and America’s favorite team as well and up until this very day, they are still my favorite team. You were my superhero.
Dad, I can remember how you would tell me how special my mom was and that I should always listen to her. You were my superhero.
And for all of those wonderful life lessons and so many more, I can’t thank you enough.
Dad, I can also remember sleeping on my suitcase waiting for you to come pick me up but you never came. You were still my superhero.
Dad, I can also remember you giving me money and not your time. You were still my superhero.
Dad, I can also remember waiting for your call and never receiving that call. You were still my superhero.
Dad, I can also remember being told that you were using drugs. You were still my superhero.
Dad, I can also remember the sadness I felt and the hurt on my mom’s face when she told me. You were still my superhero.
Dad, I can also remember when you told me you were sick. You were still my superhero.
Dad, I can also remember when I learned that sick meant HIV. You were still my superhero.
Dad, I can also remember seeing you for the first time in 15 years and not knowing what to say. You were still my superhero.
Dad, I can also remember you trying to explain the unexplainable, how you lost contact with your namesake. You were still my superhero.
Dad, I can also remember the day I was told that your health was failing and how I cried alone. You were still my superhero.
And for all of those life lessons and so many more, I can’t thank you enough.
As I am writing this letter today, I can honestly say that I’m so happy that you were able to be my superhero on so many different occasions and you are still my superhero today but I now truly understand and I hope that you do too, that I never wanted a superhero, I just wanted my dad and I will tell you the same thing my daughter told me, “it’s ok daddy, I still love you.”
On October the 4th 2011, I found myself at a crossroads in my life. My dad passed away on that day and I realized I had lost my opportunity to share the letter with him that you just read. I had written the letter for him years earlier but did not have the courage to send it. I think that I was more afraid of what he wouldn’t say, instead of what he would say. When I attended my dad’s funeral I knew I wanted to say something but I had no clue what I wanted to say, so I let everyone know that I wanted to share a letter with them that I had written a few years earlier for my dad but that I didn’t have the courage to send. While crying at times, I read the letter with both my two younger brothers and my younger sister standing beside me. After reading the letter, I really can’t explain what I felt but I knew that I was in a better place than I was before I read it. It didn’t know it then but I now know that was the beginning of my spiritual awakening. On my flight back home I read and reread the letter on several different occasions and it led me to begin exploring my spiritual journey through life by asking myself tough questions that I really wanted answers for, no matter how painful those answers might be. Through this blog I want to be able to share some of my life lessons and I hope that you would feel safe enough to share some of your life lessons as well because your words will help to change someone else’s life and I pray that if you haven’t already, you will develop the courage to send your letter.
Coleman G. Howard