DAD,

I’m 25 now. The same age, I believe, as when you first met mom. Two years prior, when you were 23, you would have still been in Iran managing the construction site. I’ve never seen a photo of you when you were 23, but I can picture your body; strong, solid and made taut from a life of trying your hardest to become the person you wanted to be. To escape from the poverty of your childhood and never have to depend on anyone, other than yourself, for anything.

You always tell me that I have to make a decision in my life as to what I want out of it. As to what I want to claim as my own in terms of something lengthier, or more permanent, than traveling from country to country, from job to no job. And, I agree. I have chosen. I once sought to start my own company, to lead hundreds towards creating something that would not only impact millions of people, or even more, but that would also outlast me. And, while that desire has faded in place of another, I still do plan to build something that will outlast me. Many things. The choice I’ve taken and the decision I’ve made is to write. To write things that make people feel alive. To write things that make people question themselves. To write things that have an impact.

I’m sure that when you look at your five sons, you compare yourself to them and only see the differences. Sometimes you like to say, “when I was your age I was…” But, think of the similarities. Think back to when you were growing up, and wanted more from your life. Think back to your disagreements with your step-mother. To when you told yourself that you were going to make something out of yourself and go far, far away from whatever you saw as holding you back. You, too, had to do things in your own way. For if you didn’t, where would you be? Possibly back in Iran, with a normal job, with less money, fewer children and an existence that always made you ask, “what if?” What if I had gone to England to study? What if I had met someone there who would change my life? What if I had made it to America and built a life there? But, fortunately, those “what ifs?” don’t exist. You did go to England. You did meet someone who changed your life. You did make it to America and built a life here. A life that wasn’t easy, but, I think, worth it all. Worth the deliveries you used to make for that Japanese man. Worth the little knick-knacks you used to sell on the side of the streets of New York City. And worth the two-and-a-half-hour drives to and from New Jersey in the early morning and evenings. You have a good life, and you’ve provided a good life for your family, which is something I thank you for.

2016 was a hard year for you. Your mother died. Your heart was put in physical danger. But, you survived and I can see that you’ve changed. You seem to be able to sense how quickly this can all go away. And now, you have to make a decision in the same way you tell me to. You have to decide where to go from here, dad. Because, fortunately, your life is far from over. There’s much more for you to do, but only you can decide what that is and when you will do it. I don’t know what happens after we die, but if the lives we hold now are all we’ll ever have, then they’re not to be wasted. A second is worth more than gold. Use all that you have.

I don’t always know what I’m doing, but trust that I’m headed in the right direction. I’m headed to a place where I can live my life the way I want to and be able to realize all of my dreams. I’m not sure when I’ll get there, but I hope it’s sooner than later. Until then, I am resigned to being patient and working as hard as I can; something I’ve learned from you.

Thank you for the life you’ve provided us with, Dad. And thank you for being a good father.

I love you,
Mateo

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