Photo of DJ Drez and his son by Ali Kaukas
Father’s Day is quickly approaching (it’s Sunday, June 21, for those of you who need a reminder), and to celebrate the fathers and father figures in our lives, we reached out to our crew of Wanderlust writers and asked them to pen thank-you letters to their dads. Here’s what they had to say.
You vowed that you would do it differently than your father—and you did. You were the first person in your family to graduate from high school. And college. With careful savings from your school teaching job, you swept us away to a small, suburban town—to a world of safety, order, and security.
How hard it must have been to see your one child grow wild with wanderlust.
A child who dreamed of skyscrapers and safaris and everything beyond our townhouse fences. A child who skipped, fell, danced, stumbled. Grew up. Discovered yoga. And then questioned every rule of an orderly world.
But it was yoga that saved me when you checked yourself into the hospital. The day before I was to take my test to be a yoga teacher, they cracked your heart wide open. And that became my true test—that was what you prepared me for all along.
I guided mom through gentle breathing exercises while we sat in the waiting room.
I swaddled her in yoga blankets at night and placed her in restorative poses to help her sleep. I read the Bhagavad Gita. Not the scripture you would’ve chosen for me, but I studied persistently, as your schoolteacher ways taught me.
You survived your open-heart surgery, and your heart, did in fact, open even more. For what felt like the first time, you accepted me in all my fire and defiance. A gate was unlatched. You did it differently. Just like you vowed you always would.
– Julie Balter
You are appreciated.
I recently realized the true depth and breadth of your presence. You may not have been as vocal as Mummy, and you may never have been the parent who escorted us around from activity to activity, or even the first parent we called in times of despair—all of that has always been her job. But, I’ve realized that your spirit, your influence, your character, and your quiet, yet strong presence are invaluable to me.
In our mother’s flurry, you remain calm, together, firm and gentle. And, while I tend to naturally lean more towards my mother’s worrisome nature, I have the privilege of even a drop of your cool mystique woven into my being.
You’ve taught me to be fair, humble, kind, independent; to be a rebel, a hippie, and to be open. In you I see the gift of inherit, impeccable intelligence and the richness born from a devotion to order. I strive to replicate your seemingly effortless dedication to self-love and personal care. You’ve been far from perfect, but I’ve watched you grow and become a better version of yourself, which not only makes me proud, but has given me deep knowing about the gifts life brings with time and maturity.
You are the stick from which I measure the greatness of a man, and the example for which I have chosen my husband. I am also grateful for your love and devotion to my mother—as my greatest teacher of giving and receiving.
You are loved.
Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.
– Kinisha Correia
I know you to be warm-hearted and caring, loving and nurturing. I know you to be soft and thoughtful. I know you to be a philosopher of sorts, a writer, an intellectual, a critic and a thinker of deep thoughts. I know you to be a speaker, a lighter of rooms and a challenger of nonsense. I know you to be mysterious, foreign, and a holder of sacred thoughts. I know you to be all of these things and more, even if no one else can see it.
With as much love as the world can contain,
– Andrea Manitsas
I’m preparing myself for the first Father’s Day that I will spend without you. Your time on earth came and went before my eyes and I would give anything to give you one more hug.
Your spirit will forever dwell in my heart. I can feel you when the sun touches my skin and when the wind plays with the trees. I feel you all around me when I lay in the grass and when I howl at the full moon. I know you are now a part of everything and I feel your love surround me with every breath I take. I’ve never been so undeniably connected to someone as I am with you.
You will always be my best friend, my greatest mentor, my motivation and my deepest roots. Your perpetual belief in my limitless potential empowers me every single day. My love for you is endless. I’m eternally grateful for the knowledge you shared with me and the irreplaceable life lessons that I live by.
I give you my word that I will fearlessly chase my wildest dreams. I will let my light always shine bright. I will never give up and I will never back down from what I believe in. I will do the right things for the right reasons and I will treasure my time on this earth. I know you wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’m honored to be your daughter. I am forever filled with your light and love for life. I thank my lucky stars every night for you. You are and will always be my greatest gift.
– Zuzu Perkal
Remember that time that we got angry? I yelled, you walked, and you said I was just too much. I must have been 16, not one specific date of that year, but we fought—a lot. I was terrible, I was full of it, I had so many feelings you couldn’t even know, but I was too much, I was too much like you: stubborn, unwilling to change, but also strong in my convictions, sure of myself, creative, caring, fiercely loyal, and steadfast.
You and I, we are the same.
Looking at me is like looking at you and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I know it’s hard to see yourself in the body of another. A smaller, girlier, hard-headed, punk that’s going to try and make the same silly decisions you made when you were that age. But I’m glad for it. If it weren’t for you, that piece of you that it took to make me, I wouldn’t be the person I am. So here, now on the cusp of 30, contemplating the terrifying fact that I maybe sooner rather than later I may have children of my own, just thank you. Thank you for being my Dad.
– Nicole Gurney
For piling us up in the car with no destination in mind. For pointing out the crumbling foundation in the woods and spotting the rusted farm equipment with the weeds grown up and through. For teaching me about subtle beauty and how to recognize change as it occurs. For having the patience to plant a seed, tend to a garden, and harvest it at season’s end. Thank you.
– Gale Straub
About four years ago today, we were driving through the Arizona desert, hunting down tacos and chasing the Pacific coastline. You brought me to an exciting new coastline, fulfilling my travels dreams and providing me with an unforgettable experience. This memory is thickly embedded within my heart, but it is just one of the many beautiful father-daughter memories that I am thankful for.
Thank you for reading to me when I was too young to speak, for doing my ponytails when mom was out of town, and for coaching my soccer team. Thank you for acting as the judge in my high school plays and for taking me camping. Thank for carrying my on your shoulders, drawing my hopscotches, and telling me that I looked beautiful when I walked down the stairs in my prom dress. Thank you for answering the phone when I needed you the most and for standing back to watch me shine.
Do you remember when you sang the “Da-Da” song and I couldn’t stop laughing??? I still walk through life with that same amount of joy. Thank you for everything, Daddy. I couldn’t do it without you.
– Amanda Kohr
Dad, Ernie, E-man,
I always took secret pride in sharing your first initial. And you may have never known it but my signature is modeled after yours.
You did know that I was carrying enough angst for the entire family. I regularly let it out on you, as teenage girls are likely to do. I’ve made peace with that and I know in my heart you never held it against me.
When I tell people that you passed away, I can see that they feel sorry for me. But I am not sorry for me, because I got to have you as my dad. And it was all perfect. Even when we yelled and screamed at each other and I told you that I hated you, because you taught me how to make up and say you’re sorry and to be humble enough to let someone yell and scream at you without holding it against them.
You gave me my bravery. My strength. My loud mouth and my morality.
When I tell people that you passed away, I tell them that I think some dads can pass away early because they were grand enough to do all of their fathering in 17 years. And I believe it to be so true.
I tell them now how you come to me in dreams, and in stories. I say that I don’t know if I ever felt like I lost my father, because our relationship is still evolving everyday as I get to know you more through other people, and through myself. I am proud that your story is a part of mine and that my story is a part of yours.
Thank you. I love you. Always.
– Elizabeth Crisci
To Dido on Dido’s Day
To the greatest Dido in the world
Happy Father’s Day from your not so little girl
Celebrating your dedication as a dad
and the endless reasons for why you’re so rad
Thank you for always being a goof
and waking me up with a song and a poof
Thank you for letting us have our TB tradition
and supporting me in my every ambition
Thank you for driving me around in the red sled
avoiding the bermuda triangle where deer drop dead
Thank you for teaching me all that I know
even if sometimes I still act like a mo’
What are a couple things that we share
A love of tommy boy and a great head of hair
Thanks to you I am always planning my next trip
At least on the inca trail my tent did unzip
Thank you for cheering me on in every game
Yelling ‘jam on jammer’ I doubt anyone knew my name
We yell at the refs when they call a bad play
I am hoping we win our next march madness parlay
Like our half marathon we have achieved a few feats
I think some of our culinary creations could also compete
Like you always say I won’t give up, I won’t ever give up
Even on my dreams of getting a little pug pup
Even though Angel is in heaven looking down
she is smiling at you and Mimo as you roam about town
Thank you for always making her cuddle me
and biting her ear when she was mean snoop to Austie
From camping in Catalina to Argentina for high tea
Thanks for being the best Dido there ever will be
We do what we do and keep doing it until the end
Wherever the world takes us our love will transcend
– Cameron Cler