An open letter to Timothy’s father

Published 5:20 pm Tuesday, October 26, 2021

By Nathan Rice

“I thought you’d like to know that Timothy is growing into a fine young man. He’s kind, considerate, caring and thoughtful. He opens the doors for people, returns the carts at the stores, picks up litter, and helps others willingly whenever he’s asked.

We’ve done the childhood staples together throughout the years, such as pumpkin carving, Christmas cookie decorating, Easter egg coloring, LEGO set building, and so much more. We’ve also had a lot of good conversations about life. He’s learned and is continuing to learn so much about life.

We had “the talk” not that long ago, and you would have been proud of him. He listened intently, asked pertinent questions, and had a mature attitude throughout our discussions. I almost waited too long to talk about the birds and bees with him. He’s growing up quickly! I bet you wouldn’t believe that he’s going to learn how to shave this week. Your little boy has a mustache. He may want to keep that mustache someday, but for now, he’s ready for another rite of passage.

I’m not sure if he’d say it to you, but he misses you. He often points out the Chick-fil-A where you and he would visit when you were still around. He talks about playing in the play area while you ordered. He also remembers the macaroni and cheese you used to make. Cooking is on our schedule of things to learn, and he wants to try that recipe first.

He says that he’s used to you not showing up when you say you’re coming to visit, but I still see the disappointment in his eyes when you fail to show. Father’s Day is difficult for him, but we spend that day together each year, and I hope it has helped him through those times.

Please know that I do not hold animosity towards you or wish you any ill will. I do not know what has caused you to make the decisions that you have made. I have no idea what difficulties you have faced. I wish you the best, but I know that you’re missing out on the best by missing out on your son’s life.

Sincerely, Nathan”

I don’t write this with the expectation that Timothy’s father will read this letter. I write this letter with the hope and a prayer that other absent fathers will read this, wonder about their children, consider what they are missing, and work to build a relationship with them. Maybe it can help some men think before leaving their children, causing some fathers to stay in their children’s lives.

Life is hard, situations can be difficult to overcome, and some problems aren’t easily solved. However, some things are worth fighting for, and some are worth doing difficult things to achieve. A relationship with your children is one of those things.

Don’t become like Timothy’s father, who has missed out on so much, and if mistakes or situations of the past have caused you to drift away, work to return to their lives.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.