My dad died at the end of 2017, I am so glad that I took the time to write him this letter before he passed. At his services I realized that life is about becoming. He became a great man. It is also about overcoming. Often times we spend our entire lives overcoming others becoming. My dad became a great man. In the process of his becoming he did a lot of damage to me. I am now in the process of overcoming his becoming. If fact I will probably spend the rest of my life overcoming his becoming. It's ok. I think I might feel different if my dad had not become the great man he did. Either way I am part of a process, overcoming to become. I am sure my children will spend tiime overcoming my becoming. The important part is that we keep pressing forward. I learned with my Dad that it takes a life time of overcoming. He had to overcome not having a father and being abondadoned by his mother. It is a process. I only hope to become as good as my did. There is hope, it took him a life time, but he did it.
I wanted to take a moment and share with you some feelings that I have in my heart. Often times in life we get so busy we don't take the time to share our feelings with those we love the most.
You and I have had a great adventure as Father and Son. I remember the early years of totally hero worship. You probably don’t remember but in third grade they called mom in because I had a problem of having my hands in my pants. I would stick them in the front. (Maybe a little to far) They were all concerned and worried. I never told them why I did it. The reason was I wanted to be like you. You always stood with your fingers tucked in the top of your pants. So I was coping you. I couldn’t figure out what the problem was. Dad did it, why were they so concerned.
I adored you with all my heart in those early years.
Then came the hard years where I told myself I hated you. I never really did, I just hated the fact that you didn’t like me. I resented the fact that I was not good enough for you. You just didn’t know how to handle a sissy son. I was beyond your realm of understanding. I didn't get that at the time. I was sure you hated me. As you acted out in misunderstanding the wall around my heart grew bigger and bigger and I just knew I hated you. In truth is all I wanted was for you to love me like you loved Brent and Craig. Now don’t say it’s not true, It was true for me and in my child eyes that is just what I saw. Your relationship with them was hard on me. I remember I even tried to play football to get your attention. I even made the team and it was a glorious few minutes as I watched your face when I told you. It didn’t last long because I hated it. I hated anything like that, but tired.
You never knew that at school I was beat up every day, spit on, called faggot and gay, kicked down the halls, laughed at, mocked, etc. That happened every day of my school life. It was pure hell and then I would come home and there I felt even less loved. At the time is all I could see was your distain for me and what I was.
I tried to get even with you. I would dress up and on purpose walk in front of your cowboy friends to embarrass you. I was determine to get your attention one way or another. No matter what I did, it was never enough. I would clean the house from top to bottom and you would find the one spot I didn’t do and yell at me.
I clearly remember once when I tried to hug you. I thought for sure you were going to slug me. It took years for me to try again. Those were hard years. I remember in my mind as you and mom were going through your divorce how hard you were on me. I knew you were hurting and you took out a lot of hurt on me. Yelling at me and telling me I was a girl in an boys body. I don't bring this up to shame you or make you feel bad, I promise. I just want you to know that though all that is all I ever wanted was for you to approve of me in any little way. By the time of my mission I told myself I hated you. I even asked my bishop if I could serve a mission with all the hate in my heart. He said yes and don’t worry, it would change.
I remember every letter you wrote for me. I knew how hard it was an I knew in your way you were telling me you loved me. The most cherished moment came when I got home from my mission and you came into the kitchen and the first things you did was you hugged me. Dad, that was worth the entire hard time I had as a missionary. I cherish that. It was really hard to come home and after so many years of not knowing to finally know you loved me. It took time for me to adjust.
Just as your sorry for your actions, I am also. I am sorry that I didn’t see how you felt. Now I know just like any father you did the best you could. It was not good enough for me at the time, but you were doing all you could to survive and make it work. I know your life was hard and your marriage with Mom was hard. I know you loved her and tried your best. Like you told some one recently that things happened that never should have happened back then. That is true, true in every mortals life. That is why I love the atonement of Jesus Christ. It can and does heal all wounds that happen on purpose or just happen because we are doing the best we know.
I am grateful that both of us have grown and see the true value of each other. I am so grateful for the love you have for me. I am so grateful to be your son and know a man of such goodness and integrity.
It will be said of you and is thought of you now that when it comes to Honest Hardworking Good Men, Bud Petersen is the best. He loves his family and does all he can for them.
For me Dad, I love and honor you for the good man you are. You give me hope that if I keep trying I will get there one day. I see in you how the gospel can change a man and soften him. I see in you great and pure faith. Your amazing.
Thank you for all you do. I hope I am like you when I am 80. Still full of life and enjoying the adventure. I hope to be a man of faith and a man that can see clearly where he was and where he is going.
Thank you for doing hard things. Thank you for telling me you love me and hugging me. Thank you for being you. Your a great man and I know the Savior is pleased with you and your choices in your life. It’s not about the mistakes we make, it’s about how we fix them and what we do to become our best. That is what is so great about you. You have moved forward with faith and understanding.
Thank you for your marriage to Frankie. She is a wonderful woman in every way. I love her and honor her for loving you and taking care of you. Thank you for making it work with her and for that example to your family.
Happy Birthday Old Man. Old Man that is adored and honored by his family and all who know him.
I love you Father with all my heart. Funny thing I get told all the time I am ruggedly handsome. Thank you for that. I guess I take after you more and more all the time.