On this Father's Day I will share a letter I mailed to my father on his 85th birthday:
I am writing to you for two reasons. First, because I want to apologize for being unreceptive to your advice and second, because there are some things I want to say before you pass away from us. I want you to know that no man has ever been blessed with such a loving and understanding father as you. You have taught me what is necessary to adhere to the principles of the faith and at the same time demonstrated (by example) what it is to maintain a strong and upstanding character even in the face of extreme adversity. I think about you every day and am preparing myself for the day when you and I will be temporarily separated and you will be permanently reunited with all of our relatives.
I remember when we were at one of your birthday parties and somebody suggested that each of us write out (on your birthday card) a memory of a time that was important to us. One of my memories was when you used to bring us home from Busha's house (never could spell it right) to the house in Parma Heights and I would fight with Tweety to stop you from driving away because your leaving us would cause me alot of sadness. Knowing the fact that you may be leaving soon brings back memories of that sadness. You said to me afterward that when that when you used to leave us, your heart would ache with sadness. My heart will ache with sadness everyday that you are not here because one of the very few people who truly cared about me will be gone. I love you Dad and I am sorry for all the times I caused you grief and anxiety like the times when you used to stop at Dairy Dell and I would throw a tantrum just to get you to buy me a stupid comic book. I am sorry for any contempt that I may have had for you especially at times when you were trying to help me; like the time over at Busy Bee when I said things to you and the owner's son that no fool in their right mind should ever think, never mind say. I am sorry for the times when you got yourself hurt trying to help me and I did nothing to help you like the time at that service station when the clerk caused you to panic and trip over that bar in the garage and you shattered your knee. I should have rushed to your side when you called me but instead you had to drive yourself to the hospital. If anything ever happens to you or anybody else in this family, I will beat down the Great Wall of China to help them. I am also sorry for not powdering your toes that you could not reach because of your knee. Before Jim Bonkowski died, he apologetically asked me to put his socks on because his feet were so swollen and he pulled a back muscle; I told him I would gladly do it because it was God's way of giving me a second chance to do something I had failed to do before. There are so many other things that I am sorry for but either I cannot remember all of them or it is getting too difficult to type while I weep.
There are some things I would like to thank you for as well. First and foremost, for being my dad who always looked out for me and made phone calls on my behalf whether it be while I was at work or looking for work. I remember when I used to work nights at Coca-Cola and sometimes we would have to work straight through the night and you would call to see where I was. I remember feeling embarrassed that my father would call looking for me but the dispatcher told me that some guys don't have a father who cares enough to look out for them. Thank you for staying in a marriage that has been difficult for you and Mom. A former professor of mine once said to the class that anybody who can survive marriage ought to be canonized. You both have done very well in upholding your vow before God. You both have also done very well in raising us the best way you could as there has yet to be a perfect way of raising children. I have come to realize that there comes a point when each of us (supported by our family) needs to take responsibility for our lives and play the cards we are dealt. Thank you for supporting me the best way you knew how. Thank you for feeding, clothing and sheltering me especially the time you came home from work and had to put the storm windows up in the middle of a driving rainstorm. I remember feeling sad watching the mud drip from your shoes as you struggled to put them up. I have your army picture in front of me and am always struck by how handsome and dignified you are. You are a man's man. Well, the kleenex box is about empty and my eyes are not drying so perhaps it would be wise to end this letter. Always remember Dad that I love you very much and will miss you even more. As Patton said about his father, you are and always will be my darling papa.
Joe (Your Half-Polish Son)
Walter Joseph Bialek celebrated his 85th birthday on January 6, 2003
4233 RIVER RIDGE DRIVE
CLEVELAND, OHIO 44109