Letters from My Father

My father died 10 years ago this week.

Thirteen years ago, he began sending me weekly letters. I never read them while he was alive. I saved them all in a file for a later day. Then in the ten years that followed his death, I could not bring myself to open that file of letters from my father.

But this Saturday for some reason, I was finally ready. I think I finally found the courage to face the fact that he is no longer here.

letters from my father

My dad was the pastor of a small Baptist church. While I was away at medical school, I asked him if every Monday he would summarize the sermon he had preached the day before and send it to me in a letter.  These were the days before emails. So he did. He would write on one side of a legal pad page and most of the other side, rip it off, fold it, and mail it to me. He used long hand and wrote it in our native Arabic language.

His whole life (as long as I can remember) he stood primarily for two things: providing for his family, and God.

The one piece of advice he repeated over and over again was simple. The same three words never changed regardless of the question. Even when I asked him, “What kind of doctor do you want me to be? What would make you proud of me?” My dad paused for a few seconds, and offered me the same three words of admonition (though it did not seem to be a very appropriate answer to the question).

Love the Lord, he told me.

That was it.  I remember thinking, “I know you want me to love the Lord, but my question was about residency.” It was not until years later that I began to understand the answer to that question. I think he was telling me that nothing truly mattered but God. That was Dad. God was his companion.

So when I told him that I did not have time to go to church and I wanted to hear about God, about his weekly sermons, he did not hesitate to oblige me in writing weekly letters. In my mid-twenties, overworked and overstressed by my medical training, I think I only read one letter. I always felt guilty about it. I would get his letters and I would save them in a file. I remember clearly that I felt that these letters were special. So I saved them, thinking I would read them someday.

I never knew that someday they would be my link to him 13 years later. He never knew that he was writing for me 10 years after he would be gone. He just wanted to deposit seeds of what truly mattered into the life of his youngest son.

This weekend, as I read a few of these letters from my father, I could not help but feel profoundly grateful and blessed. I was sad, but happy at the same time. I felt proud to be the son of an honorable man.

So fathers, what you tell your children, and what you deposit in their lives will stay with them forever. If you deposit love, they will love. If you deposit anger, they will be angry. If you deposit God, they will seek God.

And if you write them letters, they may keep them in a file. But one day after you are gone, your words will always be with them.

So I hope you will lead the children you’ve been given with integrity and great care… Twitter_logo_blue

…like my father, Habib Saade, did with me.

Your Friend,
Wes Saade MD Signature

PS: It is my desire to take these letters, which neither I nor my father thought would be read by anyone other than the two of us, and translate and publish them. I know they will be a blessing and encouragement to many (and when I do, you will be the first to know).

Tags:
,
33 Comments
  • Salam David
    Posted at 07:35h, 25 November Reply

    This is a great post! Thank you so mcuh for sharing such a personal part of your life. I enjoyed reading it this morning! God bless you! Salam

    • Wes Saade
      Posted at 07:41h, 25 November Reply

      Thank you so much Salam 🙂

    • zeina saade
      Posted at 14:03h, 27 December Reply

      dearest walid
      you may not remember me in person, you were a child when you left, but i am sure my name rings a bell. I am your cousin zeina philip saadeh. If you get my comment please send me an email. lots and lots to catch up.

  • Amanda Scott
    Posted at 08:56h, 25 November Reply

    Thank you for sharing this intimate experience of your life with us. I know your Father so proud of you every single day not only for your accomplishments, but for the person that you are inside out and. This was a great piece to read to start out my Monday and Thanksgiving week. We truly have so many things to be thankful for!
    Amanda

    • Wes Saade
      Posted at 23:03h, 25 November Reply

      Dear Amanda… Thank you. I always enjoy your words (in the blogs you’ve written or comments:)) ! Thank you for reading. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

  • Jamie Adams
    Posted at 09:30h, 25 November Reply

    Wow. This is a true testimony to what a good man he must have been. I so appreciate you sharing this. Exactly what I needed to read this week! Thank you!

    • Wes Saade
      Posted at 23:00h, 25 November Reply

      Jamie 🙂 thank you for the comment! I am so sorry for the recent passing of your uncle – I know that he was a great man that impacted your life… We are blessed to have these few people who pass through our lives and touch us profoundly – Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Chelsi Newsom
    Posted at 10:37h, 25 November Reply

    What a legacy!! Thank you for sharing!

    • Wes Saade
      Posted at 22:58h, 25 November Reply

      Thank you so much Chelsi for the comment! 🙂

    • Misty Gilbert
      Posted at 23:30h, 25 November Reply

      I agree Chelsi!

  • jcurtis
    Posted at 17:24h, 25 November Reply

    Powerful wes….thanks alot pal..I cried…

    • Micheline
      Posted at 20:44h, 25 November Reply

      So kind of you to share with us pastor Habib’s message.I am sure he is looking at you and very proud of you too.

      Micheline Farhoud

      • Wes Saade
        Posted at 22:54h, 25 November Reply

        Micheline, Thank you very much for the comment! 🙂 God bless you…

    • Wes Saade
      Posted at 22:58h, 25 November Reply

      Jeff! Thanks so much for reading and commenting! It was emotional for me to get it out… Thanks so much for your friendship. Happy Thanksgiving.

  • Sandy
    Posted at 18:40h, 25 November Reply

    What a blessing Dr W! What a beautiful connection to have to have to your Dad. God knew you were gonna need those letters one day. God is so good!!!!

    • Wes Saade
      Posted at 22:56h, 25 November Reply

      Sandy, I totally agree, God knows what we need so far in advance… only if we trusted Him more. Thank you for the comment 🙂 I love the words you always share of “God is good” – 🙂 Many blessings to you on this Thanksgiving week.

  • Kathy
    Posted at 21:23h, 25 November Reply

    Wes…

    What a beautiful tribute to your father and such a gift for the rest of us. Thank you for sharing your story. Your father sounds like a very special man, but it doesn’t surprise me since I know of his wonderful son. A great message for this week of Thanksgiving. Happy holidays to you and your family.

    • Wes Saade
      Posted at 22:53h, 25 November Reply

      Kathy, thank you so very much for the kinds words 🙂 What you said means a lot to me…. Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

  • Mona Shorrosh
    Posted at 23:16h, 25 November Reply

    Thanks for sharing something personal from your life! what I loved about your dad his heart and they way he loved God. He demonstrated by his life and loving other. I will never forget him & your mom opening there home for me. I also appreciated his advise when I was trying to make a decision about accepting the position at the church. Your dad’s advise was very helpful and encouraging to accept the position. I have so much respect for him because he was real loving at home, at church & everyone else. He lead by example by loving others.I was very very sad when he passed away. I know you miss him but hope you know He is proud of you as well. I think it’s a great idea to publish his sermon letters to you. God bless you Wes! You are following your Dad footsteps by leading by example. God bless you and give you the desires of your heart. with His love, Mona

    • Wes Saade
      Posted at 07:31h, 27 November Reply

      Dear Mona. Thank you so much for your kind words about my father and for your encouraging words. May God bless you richly in all that you do. Happy Thanksgiving

  • Misty Gilbert
    Posted at 23:37h, 25 November Reply

    Wes.

    What an incredible father you had!!!

    WOW!!! I wish I could have met him. But I will, in heaven! What a treasure to have a part of his life of carry you through your life. With the most important message of all: Love the Lord. Nothing matters more. Nothing means more. Nothing gives more than God.

    Don’t have guilt. God knew when was the perfect time for you to read these letters. God knew when you would benefit most from them. God knew just when the time was right. Trust him. Don’t beat yourself up. Your father is smiling, he knows what you know, sees what you see. He care beyond what you can imagine.

    I secretly can’t wait for you to share the translated version since I read nothing but english. Loved seeing the Arabic language written today…beautiful! Love the treasure you have in these letters.

    You are a blessed man to have had such a father!!!

    Thanks for sharing a part of your life with us. We appreciate you!

    Misty

    • Wes Saade
      Posted at 07:29h, 27 November Reply

      Misty, thank you so much for your wonderful comment and encouragement. Thankful for your friendship! Happy Thanksgiving

  • Stephanie
    Posted at 23:50h, 25 November Reply

    What a wonderful post, thanks for letting us in on such a personal part of your life. This inspires me to write a letter to my children each week as they continue to grow so that they can have them as adults and are able to look back and know how much they were loved, and how much they made a difference in my life.

    Happy Thanksgiving! God Bless! 🙂

    Steph

    • Misty Gilbert
      Posted at 05:09h, 26 November Reply

      I love that idea Stephanie!!!

    • Wes Saade
      Posted at 07:26h, 27 November Reply

      Thank you Stephanie for the comment. Oh wow…. I love your idea. Maybe you can share how this is going in a guest blog on Aspire one day? Happy Thanksgiving!!

  • Kyletha Sanchez
    Posted at 00:21h, 26 November Reply

    Dr W thank you so much for sharing. Your Dad was an Awesome man for writing those letters to you. I never had the honor of meeting your Dad , but I can see he instilled God’s awesome qualities through you. You are an inspiration to all you encounter.

    You touch the lives of the patients with your kind words and prayers. You touch the hearts of your employees. Keep smiling that smile and showing God’s precious love through you. .

    You inspire me to be a better person. Thank you for sharing. It makes me appreciate my father even more.

    May God keep Blessing you in all that you do.

    • Wes Saade
      Posted at 07:16h, 27 November Reply

      Kyletha, wow… thank you for the kind words. This means a lot to me coming from you. I pray for you and your father to always have the closest of bonds – I know how much you love him. Thank you for your servant heart and all you do for me and our patients. God bless you, and happy Thanksgiving.

  • christi
    Posted at 08:23h, 26 November Reply

    What a poignant reminder of what really matters in this life. This post is such an encouragement to lead in the way God instructs us to. I appreciate you sharing such a personal story in order to build others up.
    Thank you!

    ~Christi

    • Wes Saade
      Posted at 07:12h, 27 November Reply

      Christi, thank you for the comment! Happy Thanksgiving

  • C
    Posted at 08:30h, 26 November Reply

    What a personal and touching story. Thank you so much for sharing it.
    I know he has instilled in you that same love and compassion for God and others.
    It has made me think of my own father, who is still living, and how I need to show him how grateful I am for the lessons of God and family he has taught me. I am in California, as I write this, visiting him and family. I will purpose to show him how much he means to me while here and always.
    Thank you so much for reminding me to be humble and grateful for the father and mother I have
    Happy Thanksgiving
    Cindy

    • Wes Saade
      Posted at 07:11h, 27 November Reply

      Cindy, Thank you so much for sharing about your own father, and I hope you have a safe trip in California. I pray for God’s blessing on you and them! Happy Thanksgiving. Wes

  • Eileen Yarborough
    Posted at 08:43h, 26 November Reply

    Thank you for sharing , Wes! We never know the impact someone has made in your life until they are no longer a part of your life….

    • Wes Saade
      Posted at 07:09h, 27 November Reply

      Thank you Eileen for your comment! I agree, we never the impact people make on us sometimes until later. God bless.

Post A Comment