I know spring is a busy time on the farm, but I wish you and Mom could make it to Jaydenís graduation. He will be mentioning you in his speech. Weíll tape it for you.
Can you believe eighteen years have passed since we first held him in our arms? I promised myself that I would be a different kind of father than you had been to me. Over the years I found myself making some of the same mistakes and realizing that others werenít mistakes at all.
Iíll be honest, Dad, there were days I wasnít sure that I was going to allow Jayden to live long enough to graduate from high school. He was so rebellious! He had started to hang out with a questionable group of kids. I think ďwrong crowdĒ is a bit strong, but their influence was evident in his attitude. I didnít like his behavior, but I came to realize that only my fear of you kept me from doing the same things at his age. Thanks again for insisting that he spend last summer on the farm.
At first I didnít want him to go. I was still bitter over some of the things you did when I was a boy and didnít want that for Jayden. But I had failed as a parent and thought if you could do better... I guess in a way, this is a confession: I allowed him to come to get back at you for what not being the perfect dad, and out of guilt that I was no better.
Despite my hesitation, it was the best thing for Jayden. When he failed math, Jenny and I decided he would do the first session offered of summer school, then the rest of the summer on the farm. I had my doubts, but you and Mom were the wonderful teachers he needed that summer.
The difference in Jayden was obvious as soon as he returned. I was sure it would fade over the school year as he reconnected with his friends, but the changes were real. I have to admit that Jaydenís time spent at the farm has changed our whole family. As soon as Jayden got home he insisted we all attend church. Jenny and I agreed to go as long as Jaydenís attitude stayed positive and he stayed out of trouble. He made us try five or six different churches before he found one he liked, interviewing the pastor after the service at each one.
I began to understand what was different in Jayden. They were the same changes Iíve seen in you in recent years; changes I attributed to you having ďgot religion.Ē We couldnít deny how much it has helped Jayden but he insisted that it was more than religion. He got involved in the church youth group and discipleship program. It has been a wonderful thing for all of us. While he meets with the youth pastor, Jenny and I meet with another couple and Hunter and Nicole play with the other coupleís children who are about the same ages. About a month ago, Jenny and I both gave our lives to the Lord. We are planning to be baptized, but we want you and Mom to be there for the celebration.
Well, Dad, Iím not doing a very good job of what I really want to say in this letter. I want to apologize for spending so many years being bitter towards you and not realizing how wonderful a father you really are. I vowed to do many things differently than you did and when I kept that vow, it nearly destroyed my family. I see now the wisdom in your ways. Thank you, Dad, for loving me even when I rebelled. Jayden was only following my example. He treated me with disrespect because he saw me treating you that same way. Iím sorry.
Did Jayden tell you his plans for the future? He will be attending Calvary Bible College and plans to go into the ministry. He envisions a farm or a ranch were kids spend their summer learning to work the land and learning about Christ. He would like to help you on the farm summers and weekends, but has decided not to spend this summer with you. He thought it only fair to give Hunter the summer alone at Grandpaís Farm School, as the kids say. Nicole canít wait for her turn.
Give Mom our love,
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