Fathering

Letters from Dad

Greg Vaughn lost his father to Alzheimer’s years ago.

“I remember it like it was yesterday,” said Vaughn. “I know my dad loved me because he made sure our family was taken care of, but he never could say ‘I love you,’ or ‘Son, I am proud of you.’ That void left a hole in my soul.”

As Vaughn was going through his father’s things, he kept looking for something left from his dad to him. The only thing he found was a rusty old fishing tackle box.

“I was mad at my dad for dying,” Vaughn said. “I was mad at myself for not trying harder to connect with him. I started to throw that old fishing box in the trash and then I decided to see what was inside. There, I found the remains of my father – fishing lures.

“As I felt myself getting angrier, a question popped into my head, ‘Hey big shot, you are out here mad at the world. If you were to die here in the garage, what would your wife and children hold in their hands tomorrow that would let them know they were the treasures of your life?’”

The answer to that question caught Vaughn by surprise. He had always told his children and wife how much he loved them and they made it a point to go on family vacations, which brought great memories, but when it came to something tangible they could hold in their hands and treasure forever from him, he couldn’t think of a thing he had given them. That is when the idea of Letters from Dad came to him.

“I called 12 of my closest friends and asked them if any of them had a letter of love and blessing from their father – not counting cards,” Vaughn said. “Not a single one of them said yes. Then I asked, ‘What would you give to have one?’ The answer was always, ‘More than you could imagine.’ Then I asked each of them if they had ever written a letter like that to their children. None of them had. I looked at each of them and said, ‘Don’t you think we should?’”

That was the beginning of a very special journey for these men. They decided they wanted to leave a legacy of faith, hope and love through the lost art of letter writing.

“Men hate to write letters,” Vaughn said. “But we decided to write four letters, the first being a letter of blessing to our wives. We had some men in the group who were divorced. One guy who had been divorced 10 years chose to write a letter to his ex-wife thanking her for making him a father. It was a healing experience for both of them.”

The second letter the group decided to write was a letter of blessing to their children. That was a real stretch for Vaughn since he has seven children.

One of Vaughn’s daughters shared with a group of men that until she received her letter of blessing from her father, her most prized possession was a coat hanger that she had had since she was 10 where her father wrote, ‘Hey Beck – I love you – Dad.’ On Brooke’s 22nd birthday, her dad gave her the letter, which listed 15 reasons why he was blessed to have her as a daughter. Now she tells the men, “I have more than a coat hanger to remember my dad.”

“The third letter we chose to write was a letter of blessing to our parents,” Vaughn said. “Some of us had parents who had died so we wrote letters of tribute. The fourth and final letter was by far the hardest to write. It was a letter to our families that was not to be read until we died. Most of us leave wills and trusts and rusty old stuff, but what do we leave for our families to treasure forever?”

After they finished writing their letters, the guys decided to continue meeting monthly just to stay in touch and walk the fathering journey together. Letters from Dad has spread like wildfire across the country as fathers seek to leave a legacy to their wives and children. For men who hate to write or find themselves at a loss for words, the book has lots of samples and plagiarism is encouraged!

Whether your children are young or old, living with you or not, estranged from you or considering never leaving the fold, don’t miss the opportunity to leave a legacy. Consider writing a letter…or two.

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