A Letter to the Dad I Abandoned When I Was a Teenager

Even though my father passed away 13 years ago, he’s the person I want to thank today.

My father, Ed, was diagnosed with prostate cancer at about the same time my daughter, Bethany, was in her own raging battle with brain cancer.

As Bethany was cleared to travel, we hightailed it down to my parents’ house. He didn’t have much time left at all. We got there in time to spend his last week with him. I’m so glad we had time to tell him how much we loved him and say our goodbyes.

My father grew up in the twenties and thirties. His mother began living in a state mental institution when he was just 5 years old, so he was raised by a single dad and role model who didn’t pay much attention to him.

Consequently, my dad didn’t pay much attention to me or my siblings as we grew up. He wasn’t a bad  dad; he just didn’t really know how to be a hands-on, involved kind of a dad. I do treasure the memory of him reading the “Peanuts” comics to me every night as a bed time story, though.

003 As I got a little older, I grew into a rebellious teenager. I indulged in the whole “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” culture. One night, at age 16, I decided to leave home in the middle of the night. I hitchhiked from New Jersey to Seattle.

Four years later, I called my parents and asked if I could come home with my 2-year-old son and another on the way. My parents graciously allowed me to come home. But at first, my father wouldn’t even acknowledge my son. He was rightfully hurt, angry and disappointed with me.

It didn’t take long for my son to melt his heart, though. By the time my second son was born, my dad had forgotten all about being mad at me.

Years passed and my father ended up being a beloved grandpa to ten — eight of whom were my children. He loved to spend time with all of his grandkids. He took them to the movies, the races and to miniature golf.

He loved playing video games with them too.  Surprisingly, He even supported us in our homeschooling efforts by teaching computer programming to the kids on an Atari 800. My dad encouraged and supported all his grandkids in all their endeavors.

So, Grandpa Ed, I want to thank you for forgiving the selfish and self-centered daughter I used to be.  I want to thank you for forgiving me for causing you such horrendous heartache, worry and grief when I left home without a trace so many years ago. I want to thank you for being the best darn grandpa in the world, ever!

For all of November, The Mighty is celebrating the people we don’t thank enough. If you’d like to participate, please submit a thank you note along with a photo and 1-2 sentence bio to [email protected].

Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook.

And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


I Would Have Made an Awesome Soccer Mom

I had a few hours of free time on Sunday, and because I lead a very sexy life, I used the time to clean out my pantry. It’s a little room off my kitchen that has, over the last six years since my son came home, transitioned from a cute, chandeliered office/pantry to an enter-at-your-own-risk-I-can’t-be-responsible-for-what-falls-on-your-head [...]

When My Daughter Graduates High School, This Is (Part of) the Speech I’ll Make

When I was much younger, I used to practice my Oscar speech. You know the one: “I’d like to thank the Academy…”  These days I dream about a much different speech. My husband and I often talk about how cool it would be to throw a party when our daughter graduates from high school. We’d [...]

Why I Believe Only Special People Parent Special Needs Children

Recently, a longtime friend reached out to me to let me know she was expecting a Sensory Processing Disorder diagnosis for her kiddo. She was feeling all of the things you feel when you are told your child is different, and she was wondering if I had any suggestions or helpful tips about how to begin [...]

To the Stranger Who Sits Near Me During My Daughter’s Swimming Lessons

Dear familiar stranger, I don’t know your name. You don’t know mine. You don’t know my daughter’s name or her struggles, other than my quick explanation: “she has developmental delays.” And I don’t know your grandson’s name. But every week we sit there among dozens of other strangers and watch our little ones through the [...]