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by Nick Petrulakis
[EDITOR’S NOTE: In honor of Father’s Day, I invited BAP contributor Nick Petrulakis, manager of Alameda’s Books Inc., to share a letter he wrote to his father. – Peggy Spear, BAP Editor.]
My dad died three months ago, on March 1.
When he was diagnosed with cancer in January of 2009, I realized I had never said, “Thank you.” I manage a bookstore. I thank people for buying People magazine, but I had never really thanked my dad.
So I began writing him a letter. I finished it the week before he died. He was able to read it.
This is that letter.
Thanks for carving the letter ‘N’ into the peanut butter of my sandwiches. I do this now for Elizabeth and Kristina. They swear it makes the sandwiches taste better.
Thanks for playing catch with me. Those are my best memories as a kid. Playing catch with you.
Thanks for taking me to the doctor after I dislocated my elbow while playing catch with you.
Thanks for giving me my first real job. Thanks for teaching me not to lean on the counter, doing nothing, while working at my first real job.
Thanks for holding my hand when that big wave hit in Santa Cruz. I was underwater, choking on seawater, panicking – but your hand holding mine was so strong, so big.
Thanks for keeping the best Christmas presents stashed away until we thought we were done, like the three bikes, one for each of us, hidden in George’s room.
Thanks for teaching me to ride that Schwinn.
Thanks for not getting upset when I crashed the Schwinn into the Garcia boy’s beautiful blue Impala that same day.
Thanks for taking us to Ed Halicki’s no-hitter for the Giants in August of 1975.
Thanks for picking me up from Somerset Junior High in a brand new car – even though that car was a maroon, two-door Chevy Citation.
Thanks for letting me and Randy take that car to the prom, when it wasn’t so new, after we killed the battery in his dad’s car by listening to the Giants’ game on the Lebaron’s radio all afternoon while detailing it – for the prom.
Although, since my date to that 1983 prom was Karen, maybe the Citation wasn’t so bad after all.
Thanks for driving us to Utah all those summers to visit family, starting in the middle of the night so your boys could sleep in the “way back” of the station wagon.
Thanks for letting Dean sing along, mile after mile, to “Ride-along Cowboy.” George and I would have shut him up. I know – it was “Rhinestone Cowboy.” But not when Dean sang it.
Thanks for not buying that two-story house. Even though I cried when you didn’t. Your house has been the best house imaginable. Even when you demolished George’s bedroom to make a dining room.
Thanks for not demolishing my bedroom.
Thanks for using All Spice when I was a kid.
Thanks for always saying thank you when I bought you All Spice as a kid.
I don’t know how much baby-holding you did when we were little. Different times, different times. So – thanks for remaining calm when Karen and I handed a week-old Elizabeth to you.
Thanks for holding her. So gentle.
Thanks for pulling the covers as high as I indicated – chin, ear, or forehead – when you tucked me in. This is something else I do now with my girls.
Thanks for working so hard, for us, all your life.
Thanks for driving Mom to our house on those Wednesdays when Karen and I needed you both to watch Elizabeth. And then Elizabeth and Kristina.
Thanks for loving Karen like a daughter. Thanks for being the best Papou ever. Thanks for loving Mom, so much. Thanks for being the best man I have ever known. Thanks for being my dad.
I love you.
Nick Petrulakis lives in Alameda with his wife, Karen, and daughters, Elizabeth and Kristina.
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