I was only 26 years old, when my father passed away, after a miserable bout, with cancer. He was 57 years of age, at the time of his passing. His name was Hoyt. J. Roberts. He was a good man, full of passion and unfulfilled dreams. As his son, I could sense these things about him. Sadly, I never got the chance to truly, fully know him, before it was time for him to go.
It is not my intention to write you a letter about my father, today. But there are two memories, of my Dad, that I would like to share with you, before I reveal to you what the message of this article, really is.
One day, I remember my father took my brother and I, to an "Oktoberfest" celebration, in a small town called German Village, located in, downtown, Columbus, Ohio. He took us to a very popular, small restaurant called "Schmit's Sausage House," where a, "live", German band, was scheduled to perform, that evening. I remember the restaurant being very crowded. It was hard to find a seat. After a short wait, we finally found a place to sit, and we ordered our meals. Our dinners were served, fairly quickly, and just as we began to eat, the band ran out, onto the floor, and began to play.
This band, and the music they played, was quite different from what my brother, and I, were used to seeing, and hearing. It was, without a doubt, a new experience, for us. I believe this was the whole reason our father took us there, that day.
First, of all, the band didn't stay up on the stage, during their performance. They jumped down into the audience, and sang and danced, amongst the crowd. The other unique thing about this band, is the instruments they played. One man played a snare drum, another played the bass drum, another man played an accordion, and another played a strange, looking instrument, known as a 'slap-stick."
As they sang, and performed on their instruments, they jumped up and down, and marched to the beat. They laughed, and shouted, aloud! They were having great fun, and it seemed the audience was, too. It was a very, "energetic" performance, I must admit, but it was nothing really amazing, or anything like that. At least not to my brother, and I. To us, it was just some strangely dressed, entertainers, singing, and performing some, happy, "German" songs, but, looking across the table, I could tell it meant a lot more than that, to my father.
As I looked upon him, I saw that his eyes were filled with tears of excitement and pure joy. His lips were quivering, his teeth, almost chattering. His whole body was as tense as a tightly compressed spring, ready to explode! He appeared as if he was about ready to launch up out of his seat! He couldn't hold his feet still they wanted to dance! He seemed almost breathless, like he was having a hard time breathing. It was because he wanted to sing! He wanted to shout and have fun! He wanted to join in with the band. But, somehow, he restrained himself. It took everything he had, to do it, because it's who he really was. It's who he really wanted to be. He was probably afraid the people might laugh at him. He didn't want to embarrass himself. More importantly, he didn't want to embarrass his children. So he just sat there, and held it all inside.
I wish he would've danced. I wish he would've shouted out-loud and made a complete fool of himself. At least, then, he would've fulfilled that part of himself, that really wanted a chance to live.
Years later, after his retirement from the Newark Air Force Base, located in Newark, Ohio, I remember seeing him sitting at McDonald's Restaurant, every morning. Most times, he sat there alone, for hours, just starring into space. He always sat at the same booth. I could see him sitting there, from the street, as I drove by. I would drive by, again, hours later, to see him still sitting there. He did this almost every day. I remember wondering, to myself, "What in the world is he thinking about? My, Gosh! How could anybody stay in such a deep, state of thought, for so many hours, day, after day, after day?" I was young, back then. I really couldn't understand what was "eating" at my father. What was bothering him? Why was he so alone, in his life, and in his thoughts?
It is so ironic. You won't believe where I am sitting, right this moment, writing this article. You guessed it! McDonalds!!! I come here, almost every day, and work on my articles. I sit here, for HOURS, just like my father did. Every one that works here, knows me by name. This is my second home, you might say. I feel comfortable here. Nobody bothers me. I can sit, and think, and relax, and eat and drink, cheaply, and I don't have to worry about a waitress rushing me to leave, so she can have her table back. Isn't that interesting?
Ok, I've held you off, long enough. It is now time for me to reveal to you the reason for this letter. I write these letters so that others might "know" me. More specifically, so that my children, my family, my close friends, and all my loved ones might "know" me, at least a little better, before it is time for me to go.
I don't say that in a selfish way. I want others to, possibly, learn something from my experiences, in life. I want to share my "views" of the world. I want to express what I believe in, and how I feel about things. I want to share my dreams, and hopefully, one day live them all, and not "hold everything inside," as my father did. I want to share my love, my joys, my successes, my failures, my mistakes, and even, my shortcomings, with others, so that maybe, somehow, they can benefit from them. I do not want to leave this world having never been "known," by anybody.
I am sure I am not the only one who feels this way. Don't you feel, at times, that nobody, in the whole world, really knows your heart? Do you feel like no one has a clue who you really are? Especially, your own family, those who you really need to know, the most? Don't you wish you knew how to tell them? Don't you wish you knew how to just throw it all out there, so that everyone could really see, and know, for themselves, what a truly, awesome person you are, truly! Laugh out loud!
In all seriousness, this is important to me, and I'm sure it is to you, as well. For years, and years, I have kept my feelings and thoughts "locked up" within myself and, like my father, my eyes are filled with tears, my lips are quivering, my teeth are nearly, chattering, and my whole body is tense, feeling like it's ready to explode! My feet are jumping and my heart is throbbing, and I don't want to contain them, any longer. It just isn't right to "live" that way. In fact, that isn't living, at all.
Lately, I really don't know why, I have been thinking a lot about, the possibility, that I could pass away, suddenly, and unexpectedly. It bothers me to think that I would be leaving this world without, anyone, ever having, really, "known", my true heart, at all. Especially, my own children. I want them to know their, "Father's Heart," especially in matters concerning them. It is the greatest gift I can leave them. It is the best I have to give. I want them to know how much I love them, and how much I care for them. I want to give them all of the "good advice" I can, so that their lives may be blessed with love, health, happiness and abundance. These letters are, one way, I hope to communicate these things, to them. But not only to them, but to anyone I can "touch" through this medium.
Often times I have wished there was a single, phone call I could make, or a single, letter I could write, or a single, conversation I could have with those I love and care about at could explain the depths of my heart and feelings, towards them. I have found it to be impossible. I have tried hundreds of times, over the years only to end up feeling frustrated, and dissatisfied, with my attempt. Still, I knew, somehow, I had to find a way to accomplish this important task. I couldn't just quit trying, and assume, everyone "knows" who I am, and how I feel about them because they don't!
It has taken me a lifetime to become the person I am, today. How could I possibly share that with others, in a single day...or in a single conversation? I cannot. But perhaps, a little at a time, through these letters and through other efforts, too, my children, my family, my friends, my co-workers, and even, others, who I don't even know may come to "know" me, a little better, and come away blessed by the experience.
I say this in all modesty and humility.
M Adam Roberts lives and writes from Clearwater, Florida.
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