Photo: The Canadian Press

Dear Dad, thanks for dreaming this Olympic dream

Dear Tat, (Editor’s note: In Ukrainian, ‘Tat’ is short for ‘Dad, pronounced ‘Taht’)

This Father’s day I’m putting you on the spot. For years I’ve written you notes and cards for your birthday, for Christmas, for Father’s Day and so on. The thing is, those notes and cards are usually only read by you.

This year is different.

I couldn’t think of anyone else who is as unconditionally loving and supportive as you are as a father. Simply put, any child, boy or girl, would be proud to be raised by a father like you.

Ever since mom passed away 15 years ago I can sum up your devotion as a father to both Mykola and I not through the things you’ve done, but through the things you’ve given up to see us succeed in everything we do.

Yes, I’m talking about that proverbial two-car garage you’ve been waiting all your life to call your own!

If I think back to those first few years after our circumstances changed, you gave us everything so Mykola and I didn’t have to sacrifice any of our ambitions in life. Sure, your ‘boys’ had to grow up faster than most kids are expected to, but that was nothing compared to the sacrifices you made for us so we could continue to embrace our Ukrainian heritage through language and dance, be musically inspired, and, of course, pursue a sport that would eventually become a life passion – speed skating.

What’s more is that instead of just watching from the stands as your boys competed, you took to officiating and became a starter. As the years rolled on you reached your own milestones as an official: Level 1…Level 2…Level 3… and eventually being named to the championship starter list as one of the top-24 Level 5 starters in the world. Not too bad for a dad who didn’t want to sit idle in the stands!

As Mykola and I started to develop our Olympic dreams, so did you.

Leading up to and after the 2010 Games in Vancouver, it became a common goal for the three of us to be in Sochi as either competitors or an official at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

Sometimes, though, life takes its course whether we like it or not.

Last year Mykola decided it was time to start his career as a chemical engineer, and due to seniority it sounds like there’s a good chance you won’t be one of the starters come February.

But life’s course can’t stop the three Makowskys as we realized part of our dream together in Sochi this past March at the 2013 World Championships.

You know all too well that I qualified for those championships by the skin of my teeth after being sick pretty much all winter long. And just when I could use a little extra encouragement and support to wrap up the season, who shows up at the hotel the same night I arrive in Sochi?

You and Myk.

Now we won’t mention who might have dropped a few hints along the way that a surprise was in the making … cough … Scott Stefani … cough … Hans Terstappen … cough … Julie Healy … but none of those hints took away from the genuine excitement I had when you showed up at my door.

Not every parent (or brother) would literally fly half way around the world just to cheer you up and keep you in good spirits after being on the road sick for more than a month. That in itself is something I’ll always remember.

So, with the Makowskys in Sochi it was only fitting that we snapped a pic of the three of us in the Adler Arena where we had all dreamed of being in less than a year.

Editor’s note: (I’m pretty sure while in Sochi my dad was also thinking of all of the coaches and officials by secretly scoping out a prime location for Sochi’s own official Makowsky Lounge!)

But what ever happened to that two-car garage you gave up for your family?

Well, technically you still don’t have one since you went straight for a three-car garage instead! Last summer you started a new chapter in your life in your new home and I couldn’t be happier to finally see you with the garage you’ve been waiting for all your life.

Your real card is in the mail, so for the time being I thought the recent birthday card you gave me is a perfect fit to send back to you today … with a few words changed of course:
For you, Father

I was thinking of you today, when I realized that I haven’t told you in a while how wonderful it is to have you for a father…

Sometimes, of course, I worry about you, but that’s just a natural part of being a son. More often, I think about how special you are, and how much joy your cheerfulness and willingness to help out have added to my life…

I may have criticized you at times, I may have tried at times to change you, but I love you just the way you are…and the way you are makes me very proud.

Enjoy your new garage, Tat. Happy Father’s Day!