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A Love Letter To My Son

by Tom Paré

I wrote a letter to my son Tom Jr. at a time when he was going through some difficulties over which I had no control. Recently, he reminded me of this letter and said that it had meant a lot to him. In honour of Father’s Day, June 16, I’d like to share it with the readers of The TIMES.

Dear Tom,
I wish you were a little boy again and I could scoop you up and hold you when you hurt. I wish I could make all your cares go away like I could do when you were small. All that I can do is remember my own youth and how I went to my father, and I knew immediately that he and he alone could solve the pre-man problems that I had. I remember also that there came a time in my life when I no longer went to him because I felt that it was necessary for me to solve my own problems. Unfortunately, I didn’t always do a very good job. Strangely enough, at these times, my mind would wander back to the protectorate days when it was not necessary to explain in detail what was bothering me, but only to reach out to him. If he could help or offer an explanation, he was always quick to do so, but there were times when the solutions to my problems, whether real or imagined, were beyond his capabilities.

I recall one such time when, as Christmas approached, I turned in my obligatory list, and my dad called me out for one of our little talks that he was not very good at giving. He was uncomfortable initiating these moments of fatherly communication. But this time I realized the importance of the talk. It seems that we were having a very trying time financially and, as a matter of fact, we were losing our house. He had to tell me that he had no money to give us all a good Christmas, and he explained that he needed me to understand that my Christmas would not be as I expected. My dad had to admit a failure to me, his oldest son. At least he thought so. He told me that he could not afford to get a gift for all of us and since the younger boys still believed in Santa Claus, he felt that they should get the big presents that Christmas, and if things got better, he would buy me something later when he had saved up more money. My first thought was disappointment until I saw his eyes well up, and I realized a few new things about my old man.

Tom Paré with his son in 1957

Suddenly, I was no longer a little kid, but instead had been promoted to something more; not necessarily an adult, but a part of the inner circle. He let me into the workings of the family. I enjoyed my new role and it was a secret between us; my mother was not included in any conversations. The following summer, he took me to a house on Erie Street and bought me my very first bike; a used English racer for which he paid $12.00. It was my Christmas present.

He was a good guy, my old man, and at times, something in my brain will click, and I’ll smile as an old memory is revived due to a current circumstance. For example, when I was leaving for Korea, perhaps never to return. He shook my hand because he didn’t know that men could hug, and in much detail explained how to sharpen my razor blades on the edge of a water glass. I am probably the only person to ever be given that fatherly advice at what could very possibly have been the last time together. The night before my wedding, he came into my bedroom and asked, almost in a whisper, if there was anything that I needed to know about the birds and the bees. This, to a guy who was 21 years old and had spent three years in the army, including one in the Orient. Not to forget that I had also led a rather wild bunch of teen years. I remember being awfully embarrassed; not for me, but for him, because I knew he was trying to do what was right but he didn’t know how to do it. I told him that I had a pretty good idea of what to do, and that ended the conversation, much to the relief of both us.

There are many times that I don’t know what or how to do things when it comes to being a dad, and there are times when, just like my dad, I am embarrassed because I know that I can’t do all the things that I’d like to do. It is very difficult to admit to the awful truth that I don’t have the wherewithal to do the right thing. Just like my dad, I have sleepless nights because of what I am incapable of doing. At times, the guilt rises up as I remember all the money I wasted on garbage, while never once thinking of what the future could hold.

Somewhere, there is the spirit of a little gray-haired French guy, who would gladly show you how to sharpen your razor blades on a water glass. I wish he was here to show me again. I wish I was a little boy again. I wish you and I were both little boys again.

With a lot of love,
Dad


 

 

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