Comments 19

A Daughter’s Letter to Her Hero

Dr. Kelly Flanagan,

On behalf of all women, daughters, mothers, fathers, and future husbands, thank you for this post. I’ve written a letter back, for my father, all fathers, and all men who someday hope to become fathers. You may never read this, but I want you to know that your post helped me to press pause in my busy day to think about all of the ways my father has shaped who I’ve become.

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Dear Daddio,

I’m all grown up now. At least, I like to think I am. I like to think that because I have a job with a fancy title, a New York apartment, and a savings account with ACTUAL savings in it, that I have it all figured out. Some days, I like to think that my sense of independence (inherited from my mother), combined with my competitive nature and occasional stubbornness (let’s be honest, those traits are all you), will be enough to carry me safely through each and every challenge.

Recently, I realized I don’t know the first thing about love.

And I called you.

Dad, I’m not the girl who hides beer bottles in the back of her closet anymore.

Trust me, I know I can’t get anything past you. You know I’m not okay, simply by the way I answer the phone.

Dad, I understand that you may have judged the people that I’ve dated (and rightfully so, a few of them were doozies), but thank you for never judging me.

I remember there was a time when I told you I wanted you to keep your nose out of my business. I’m sorry about that. I didn’t mean it one bit.

There was a time when I didn’t want your opinions on my high school relationship, which you later renamed, “The Thing That Wouldn’t Die.” I’ll never forget how horrified I was when you told me that I wasn’t allowed to hang out at his house until you met his parents. At sixteen, I couldn’t comprehend the urgency and necessity behind that demand. I was convinced you were simply trying to ruin my life.

Dad, thank you for treating me like precious cargo.

I didn’t want your opinions on the boy with the tattoos. He was running from the world, and I wanted to be the person he was running toward. He was a walking contradiction. Hot tempered, unless he was reading poetry. Smoking a cigarette, unless he was playing guitar. He disrespected authority, but I’ll never forget the fear in his eyes the first time your car screeched up the cliffs overlooking the beach where he and I sat, two hours past my curfew.

He called you sir. That’s when I knew it was over.

There was a time when I didn’t want to hear your thoughts on my long distance relationship in college. You watched, helplessly, as he stretched his arm across countries and oceans, and ripped your little girl’s naive quick-to-trust heart out. He poured salt in my chest and waited for me to shrivel up like a pathetic snail. Heartbreak has a funny way of teaching us life’s most important lessons. Struggle is never permanent.

You said, “I told you so.”
I slammed the refrigerator door, and begged you not to be right.
But to just be my dad.

For the record, Dad, you WERE right.

And that doesn’t mean I won’t school you in a game of basketball every now and then, old man. You know better than anyone that I’ll kick my heels off and take you to town, even if I’m wearing a dress. What can I say, you raised a little girl that can hang with the guys. I still believe Larry Bird was the greatest passer of all time, 9 times out of 10 I’ll pick a sports bar over a fancy dinner, and if there’s a juke box, my money is going to a Bruce Springsteen classic.

All jokes aside, Daddio, when I’m trying to balance my love life and my personal life on a seesaw, and they’re both about to fall off, I know there is one man who will always even the scale.

Thank you for teaching me that it’s okay to be alone, but that I have no reason to ever FEEL alone.

That my self worth does not lie in anybody else’s approval.

That I am just as strong on my own as I am with a man in my life.

Thank you for still loving me, even when I called you a ‘Douchebag’.

Thank you for still loving me, even after I hung up on you.

Thank you for still loving me, even when I didn’t love myself as best as I could.

You’re still my hero, Daddy. Superman has nothing on you. I hope someday, should I ever have a son, that he’ll grow up to be half the man you are.

All my love,

Your Biggest Fan


  1. This is lovely. I read Flannagan’s letter as well and loved it; there’s something special in the relationship between dads and daughters 🙂

  2. Geri says

    Wow, Carley, His letter brought tears to my eyes, but this one even more so as I am so close to both of you. What a wonderful tribute to your father & my brother.

  3. Mrs. P says

    Somehow, I think your dad will get this message…and it will make his year…maybe even make his next ten years!

  4. theshooz says

    So sweet! I love Kelly Flanagan’s blog, and that letter was awesome. Thanks for sharing your dad letter.

  5. marialla says

    ABSOLUTELY, THE GREATEST OF LETTERS THERE CAN BE. THANK YOU FOR SHARING IT. I plan to keeping it in my archives for a reread. It is soooooooooooo good!!! Mari

  6. Carley, This is absolutely wonderful. If, in twenty years, my daughter could write anything like this to me, I would feel incredibly grateful. Blessings to you. And give your dad a hug for me. Best, Kelly

    • Thank YOU so much, Kelly, for stopping by and reading! It really means a lot to me that you know how much your letter to your daughter touched me. I know someday when she’s my age and she’s been through the ups and downs of growing up, she’ll appreciate and cherish all of your support. Thanks again!

  7. This is amazing! I love it! I recently wrote a post about my daddy. It wasn’t anything near as amazing as this though!

    • So happy to hear you also wrote about your dad! It’s important to let the ones we love know that we value them. Thanks for reading!

      • Every Father’s Day, I write my dad a letter in his card about how much I love him and cherish him. Same with my step mom.
        And it’s no problem! I love reading your blog! Keep up the great work!!

  8. Amazing letter, Carley. I had to stop & come back to it because sometimes it hurts too much not to have someone like this to write a letter of my own to. Your dad sounds like an amazing guy. ❤

    • Thank you, Kate! ❤ I hope to see you sooner rather than later. We're not that far away you know! You always have a place to stay in NYC! xo

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