16 years ago my father passed away. It is amazing to think it has been that long. My father's Legacy is that of a social worker, wandering Jew (he traveled extensively), and loving family man, who could entertain his kids for hours with reenactments of his international escapades and live readings of Grimm's Fairy Tales. They say that some of the best gifts in life are ephemeral and Ted Halweil was clearly a gift because in his short time in my life he managed to instill within me compassion, humor, and a love of storytelling that have served me to this day.
This past year has been a wonderful transition for me in a number of ways - I am returning to live in NY, where I was born and spent much of my childhood, after almost a decade's separation; I am finally making time for professional acting work and creative pursuits; And I am working hard to still prioritize travel & giving back to my community - all the elements of the generous, gregarious spirit that my father so well encompassed. It has been a profoundly fun and inspiring adventure for me, but today was the first day that it felt truly bittersweet.
For the first time in many years, I find myself deeply missing my dad… I wish he could see my life and the choices I have made; that we could have a joking, existential, late night conversation about them, wherein he reminds me to not take myself too seriously or be in too much of a rush leave home and take on the world. I wish he was here to celebrate and share in this next chapter I am undertaking, and that he could know how much he has influenced the woman I am becoming (even in his absence). More than anything I wish he could know how grateful I am for the life and time he has given me.
It is often easy to view father's day as just another Hallmark holiday - another date to buy nifty gifts and exchange well wishing wrapped in pretty paper - but a father's role in a child's life is so much more significant than material tidings. What I have learned is that the greatest gift of fatherhood is the time a dad is blessed to spend with his children. For everyone out there celebrating father's day, hug your father a little closer for me. Call him and ask why the chicken crossed the road, or better yet ask him his favorite joke. Make sure to tell him your hopes and dreams. Ask his advice. Express your gratitude. Enjoy his time.
In our hurry-up-and-go society it is often too easy to forget that life is fleeting and there is nothing more precious than time with a loved one. There is a reason Papa Smurf was close friends with Father Time, so this father's day please give him some of yours.