What I hope for you, maybe the greatest thing that a father can hope for his son, is that one day you will become a father yourself. And then you will know how much I truly love you.
– Henry Allen, to his son, Barry, in an episode of The Flash.
WHEN I THINK OF BEING A FATHER and everything that means, I also think of being a son. I think of the strength that comes from being honest and vulnerable in front of your children, and your parents.
I think of heroes: being one, and at the same time, having heroes.
I don't mean hero in the sense of having superpowers. What I mean is being there for your loved ones, no matter what. That you can be honest with them and not feel guilty about speaking up for yourself, but at the same time, trying to understand where they're coming from.
Heroes don't need to fix things. They support their loved ones in their growth and healing.
January 17 is my father's birthday. On this day, I honour my father, my hero.
It's your birthday. You're 79! Looking good. How are you? Did you know you're my hero? One of them, I have a few. But you are the original. You taught me patience, kindness and generosity.
When you came to Canada with Mom, you had to take risks but also be sure. Wow. To get into real estate, hold down a full-time job, manage your properties—how did you do it? You planned and made a good life for you and your family.
Was it hard? Did you ever feel despair or have a sense of "What am I doing?!" I feel that sometimes. Some people think I'm pretty put together. Truth is I sometimes feel broken AND happy, if that makes any sense. But mostly, I'm happy. It's those in-between states where I feel lost.
I guess I can be many things at once, I'm trying not to think or feel in binary terms.
Well, you are and always have been a great role model for me. I'm proud to be your son. I'm so glad you and Mom have been able to be a part of my kids'—your grandchildrens'—lives. And they are a part of yours.
Did you ever feel doubt or hesitation when you were my age? I would've been 13 when you were 46—just about the same difference between me and J. Funny thing is I always saw you as so put together. I don't feel that about myself. Maybe you felt the same way sometimes. I guess we all have our doubts, our hopes, our dreams, our fears.
All I know is you showed me love, and you continue to. You showed me patience, especially through my trying times, times that tested your resolve and patience, when I went through horrible bouts of depression and mania as a young adult. You showed me generosity, with your time and support.
I have many regrets from those days, said and did terrible things. I guess I haven't fully forgiven myself. But I have learned from you. You have forgiven me and didn't give up on me. For that I am forever in your debt and you are forever in my heart.
Happy birthday, Dad. I love you.