Belated thanks and apologies to my late father, Gjert Andreas Hovland
This is my 14th Father’s Day without you. I remember when you first passed away on October 9, 2002. The hurt was not only emotional, but physical. I had a lump in my throat that made swallowing painful. It faded eventually, but I still feel your absence, especially on Father’s Day.
Today, I can’t wish you a Happy Father’s Day. And I can’t go back and thank you for all the great things you did for me that went, if not unnoticed, then un —or under—appreciated. I can’t apologize directly for the things I did or didn’t do while you were still around. But I can recognize them and put them out to the universe. Perhaps God will relay the message. Or maybe, just maybe, you can sense them from where you are:
- Thank you for getting me the “How to Change a Tire” video from The Dummies series. I am sorry I never watched it. You wanted me to be armed with information should I ever need that knowledge. I didn’t appreciate the gesture for what it was.
- I am sorry that, as a child, I went out begrudgingly to help you as you worked tirelessly in the garage after hours to fix cars and “earn a few extra bucks.” I just needed to press the brake and gas pedals and should have done so with a grateful heart as you worked your magic under the hood.
- Thank you (and Mom) for taking us to Norway so often during our youth. I didn’t appreciate it back then for the incredible opportunity and privilege it was. You helped us develop a relationship with our family — with your families — that we wouldn’t have known otherwise. That we still have today.
- I am sorry I didn’t ask you more questions. About the hardships you endured as a child growing up during World War II; about the accident in the factory in Egersund that put you in a coma and nearly cost you your life; about the difficulties of making a fresh start as an immigrant in the US; and about the challenges you overcame as a single parent before you and mom were reunited.
- Thank you for providing me with a college education. I go back for my 25th reunion at the College of St. Benedict next week. I had experiences at St. Ben’s that helped shape who I am today. You and mom made that possible. Today I am grateful and recognize that I didn’t give you adequate thanks for the value of that education.
- Thank you for walking me down the aisle before “giving me away” to David. Thanks
for your patience and assurance as I started hyperventilating right before the ceremony.
- Most of all, I am sorry that I never had an open and honest conversation with you about your drinking. I understand it all too well now. Instead of being angry and resentful, I wish I could have walked through the fear and shared with you a clear dialogue about alcoholism. Who knows where such a conversation may have led us both.
Thankfully, as a parent myself now, I know that you loved me more than anything in the world, despite my shortcomings. You cheered me on and loved me unconditionally, just as you did my wonderful and amazing siblings, Larry and Heidi. You gave us everything you had. And more.
My wish today is that I can provide for my children at least half of what you provided for me. Then I’ll know I have done a good job as a parent.
Your youngest daughter
PS: Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there doing the best they can, including David Robert Petersen, the fabulous father of my children. I love you! For those who have recently lost their dads: I am very sorry for your loss. It does get better. I promise.