Father's Day Cards Revisited

by John Wayne Samples

Summary

An older father sends his dad his thoughts in a card, while his father, perhaps the does the same. Purpose: To make the audience -- especially the fathers and the father-wannabees -- reconsider their priorities and their relationship with their children.

Characters

The son: 45-50 years old. He wears a T-shirt that says "It's a Boy!"
The father: 65-70 years old.

Production notes

Staging: Two stools with writing stands or two desks and chairs on opposite ends of platform.
Props: Pens and a couple of cards.
Notes: Lights should alternate between the characters as they talk, if possible.

Script

(The Father is already on stage with a stool or desk so he can write.

SON

Dear Dad. I was just going through my junk drawer and came across that card you sent me on my very first Fathers' Day, 25 years ago. It was so full of wisdom; and I don't understand how you knew all that stuff, because you were just about the age I am now when you wrote that, and my son is now the age I was then. Unbelievable!

DAD

Dear Son. I don't want you to think I'm being too mushy, but I'm going to write you another Fathers' Day Card today. I've been waiting 25 years for you to reply to the last one; maybe you didn't get itů Maybe I'll send this one by email with a return receipt requested! Maybe I'll just wait another 25 years.

SON

I can't tell you how many times I've sat down to write you a response to some of the things you wrote back then; but I never knew where to begin. And when we were together, it always felt awkward talking about stuff like that. I kept thinking I'd get around to it eventually, so I didn't push it.

DAD

I've always known that you love me - I mean 47 ties in 37 years; How could I miss that message?! And even though you don't say the words a lot, those times when you have honored my values and taken my advice have always been so important to me.

SON

About the only regrets I've had in my life, were all those times when I chose not to follow what you taught me, or when I saw that look of disappointment. And now, with my own family, well, I'm just sure that if I could have been a Father FIRST, I would have made a much better son.

DAD

It's selfish of me, but I've always wondered what kind of father you thought I've been. I know I've done a lot of things that you didn't like or understand, but I think you know-I hope you know-that I was always trying to do what was good for you. Just the same, someday it would be nice to hear that you think I'm okay. It's not necessary, but it would be nice.

SON

I realize I don't have to say this because you already know it, but I think you've done a pretty terrific job as a Dad. If I've done half the job with my children as you did with yours, I'd consider myself a success as a father. But even so, I wonder what my kids think about the job I've done. Maybe someday they'll tell me. Maybe someday I'll ask, but I hope I don't have to.

DAD

It's hard to believe that 25 years have gone by since you became a father yourself. I've shared in your joys as a parent, and in your heartbreaks. I've celebrated those Little League championships, and on those days when you didn't know if your child - or marriage - would survive, I cried with you. I know you didn't always see my tears, or hear my laughter, because you were so busy with life, but I saw more than I said, and I wept and smiled more than you saw.

SON

So many times since I left your house I've wanted to run home to "Daddy" and have you embrace me. But I didn't because, well, we were MEN, and I didn't want to embarrass YOU. But, as long as I knew you were within reach, the successes seemed more successful and the failures seemed survivable.
And you always seemed to prefer standing there at a distance, not wanting to interfere in the good times, and maybe not wanting to know about the bad times. I wish you had celebrated with us more, but I'm glad you were far enough away that my failures didn't cause you a lot of pain.

DAD

I still marvel at how well you've done. Many men would have broken under the strain of what life often dumped on you, but you kept coming back, always a little stronger than before. You obviously were paying attention to some of the things I tried to teach you.
Sometimes I wished you would have reached out to me more often during those difficult times, but I guess we all have different comfort levels about those things.

SON

It seems like every time life would cut me a break and things would be going pretty good, I always found a way to screw things up. Oops. I know you don't like that phrase, but I seem to have a real knack for making things harder than they need to be. What did I miss in what you were trying to teach me? I never found the instruction book on that part.
Sometimes I wished you would have reached out to me more often during those difficult times, but I guess we all have different comfort levels about those things.

DAD

I know you've had problems at home. Your relationships with your kids and wife have not always been what either of us would have hoped. Sometimes you were able to heal the wounds, and some of the wounds still need healing. Maybe I could have taught you better about some of that; and maybe you could have listened better. And maybe the point is to keep working on it, and learn what you need to pass on to your son as he approaches his first father's day.
I wish I could make it simple for you, but hopefully you've learned by now that there are no short cuts in things like this.

SON

Dad, my son is going to be a father soon, and I've been trying to think of some really smart things to tell him about parenthood, things that would keep the family wisdom alive. Maybe I'll just digitize your old card, use my new computer to replace your signature with mine, and print it out over at Kinkos on their fancy color printer. On the other hand, you did sign it just "DAD" so... maybe I'll just give him the original.
That's a really bad idea. I know there are no shortcuts, so I guess I'll do it the hard way; I'll retype what you wrote and email it to him!

DAD

Happy 25th Fathers' Day, my son. Give that wife of yours a kiss for me. And thanks for that tie that I'll be getting later today. I love you.

SON

[looking over the card, then reconsidering]:
[to the audience]
Boy, if I send this dribble, Dad will think he raised a real weannie.
[tears that one up and gets out a new card]
I'll try that one again next year.
[begins again]
Dear Dad. Happy Fathers' Day. How about we meet in the lobby after church and I'll buy at Red Lobster? I've got coupons!
[wrestles with a closing]
Your Loving Son... your son... your tie-giver... naah.
Signed, "Me"

[Father and son put their cards in envelopes, hand to each other while smiling politely, and leave.]

..............................

Copyright John Wayne Samples, all rights reserved.
This script may be used free of charge. In return, the author would like to be told of any performances. He may be contacted at JohnW@JSam.com. Further scripts by the same author can be found at www.jsam.com