Dear Bill | A Letter To A Man I’ve Never Met

Dear Bill,

Can I call you Bill? Would you prefer Mr. James? I’ve often wondered if you got to witness the sparks flying from your heavenly view as Van and I started dating a few years ago. We were both blindsided by them – in the best way. Did you nod and smile at your son with approval as he opened doors, pulled out chairs, and did all the right things that you had taught him to do as you watched our relationship develop? Would you have grown to love me as your daughter-in-law? Would you even like me? Would we get along? Would we laugh together? I think we would. I hope we would. All we really have in this life are the relationships we create with others, and I understand that was something you were pretty good at creating – besides your precious son, of course.


I have asked questions about you here and there of Van, your wife, and your daughter – to try and get to know you without actually ever having the opportunity to get to know you in person. It’s so hard to believe that ten years ago last September 22, you left this world and your earthly life – leaving behind your son that I love so dearly, your daughter, and your wife. What were you like? How did you act? How did you and Harriet act together? What did you do together? What did y’all argue about? What made you laugh? My parents have been such role models for me in terms of representing a healthy marriage, and I wonder how Van saw marriage growing up. I wonder what your demeanor was like. What your laugh sounded like. What it would be like to have you join us for dinner, or spend a Saturday afternoon with you, or visit us on a random Tuesday. How would our lives be different if you were still here on earth? How would our relationship be different? I’ve heard your voice on Harriet’s answering machine, but that’s as close as we will ever get in this lifetime to meeting face-to-face.


Ten years ago, Van was in his mid-twenties, still somewhere between a boy and a man. He has done so much growing up on his own since then relying on the foundation you set in place during your time together. I know how much he would love to talk with you just one more time, hug you one more time, even just see you in the flesh one more time. I know you are incredibly proud of the man he has become – a hardworking, intelligent, kind and generous man, loyal to his loved ones – be they friends or family. Our home group jokes about playing 6 degrees of Van James instead of 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon, and I understand that you were a generous, kind, loyal man with many friends as well. I can’t tell you the number of times we have been in a store or business in our few short years of being together where I have heard someone say, “Well, I know Bill James would have/thought/said {fill in the rest of the sentence}.” I realized quickly into our dating that living in a small town and dating Van, my anonymity was kaput, and I would imagine that has both to do with your legacy as well as the amazing man you raised him to be.


I wish you could have met my Dad. I think y’all would have gotten along well. You and my Dad have both planted seeds in Van and myself that have grown into strong work ethic, a love for family and a zest for life. I’m so thankful that Van and my Dad have a great relationship, which continues to grow, and that they have embraced each other as family. It makes my heart happy to see them together. My family adores Van, and they are proud to call him a son, brother and Uncle Van…although, I don’t know that there are very many people that don’t like your son.



Probably some of the hardest moments so far of not having you physically with us has been the time surrounding our wedding. My heart cracked as i witness specific moments where Van missed you terribly in the time leading up to and on our wedding day, and at times when it was very hard there was nothing I could do but hug him and say, “I’m so sorry. I wish he was here, too.”

On the day of our wedding, although your photo was supposed to be placed in the chair next to Harriet’s, it was accidentally put on the table with the family wedding pictures instead, so at the last minute we had to get you in “your seat”. I still feel like it was the perfect ‘mistake’ – possibly even divine intervention – and though an emotional act for many, it was so very symbolic and special that you were the first “groomsman” down the aisle. Sometimes even though we know that your presence is near, it’s hard not having the physical evidence. I promise to always work to celebrate your life as Van and I celebrate the both the little and big moments of life together.


As you know, Van and I dated for nearly a year and a half before we got married. Since we were friends before we started dating, we had the opportunity of bypassing some of the awkward moments and the small-talk side of getting-to-know you stuff at the beginning of any new relationship. However, I don’t think you REALLY get to know the true nuances and quirks of someone until you live with them – which can be challenging, adventurous, highly entertaining. With just over a year of living together behind us, I feel like I see more and more of you in him with each passing day. The longer we are together, the more Van talks about you, and I am granted treasured bits and pieces of you and your personality – putting each of them together as another piece of the puzzle as to who you are – his role model, his example of leadership and love, his “Deddy”. I am beyond thankful for the life skills and lessons you taught him in his short 26 years with you. Time cut too short, but so well spent.


Finally – and most importantly, I’d like to say thank you – two words that don’t even seem near adequate to describe my gratitude, for raising such a kind, good-hearted, honest, gentle soul of a man who miraculously fell in love with me, brings out the best in me, encourages me and supports me. You did a fine job, Bill. A fine job. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Happy Father’s Day.

Much, much, love until we meet, your daughter-in-law, Lauren



The Olive Shoe | Paperie & Design | Celebrating Creativity and Creatively Celebrating is designed and run by Lauren {LAC} James © 2016 LAC James All Rights Reserved.

Lauren {LAC} James is a creativity crusader, artist, stationery & graphic designer, planner extraordinaire, and blogger in her “free” time. Follow her and The Olive Shoe on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram! Please subscribe to receive emails, and of course, come back and visit again soon!

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