I recently posted this to Reddit to a “DAE” post about fathers. I don’t know why I felt like sharing it.. it just felt like a good thing to share. I repeat it here for completeness.
I had a lot of fond memories of my father. But the best was a bit of a time-release memory, not realized until long after my father’s death.
My father, when he was in his early 20’s, was a camp counselor at a place called Camp Union, somewhere in Massachusetts, probably back in the 1950’s. This I knew.
What I didn’t know was that he kept every single piece of correspondence he ever received from the young men and the families he worked with. I found the box of letters in cleaning out his house after he passed away.
A few of the letters were actually recent. I reached out to a few of the most recent letter-writers, and discovered one of the men was now living nearby (I live in Oregon presently). We met for coffee one day, and he shared with me many wonderful stories of times at the Camp. And he shared with me many of the letters my father wrote back to him over the years.
But the best was the letter I got from this gentleman a few days later. What he could not express to me that day was that my father apparently worked with “at risk” boys from the inner city of Boston, and that my dad was one of the key reasons he straightened his life out and went on to be a “pillar of the community” when he was well on the road to being a street thug.
And suddenly I realized that my father was not only my father, but the father of a lot of other struggling young men in the 1950’s long before I came into his life. And I have a lifetime of correspondence to read and cherish, knowing that as much as my father meant to me.. that there are hundreds… maybe even thousands… of other men who’s lives he touched.
And that makes me proud of my father in ways no one single memory can ever do.