Written On a Business Trip, Clearwater, Florida

April 1, 2005

Hello Dad,

It feels so good to get away from the NY scene and enjoy the warm weather for a change. Being here reminds me of when I lived in Jacksonville, FL while pursuing my Ph.D. There was something special about having my own place. Perhaps it’s the same feeling a person has after purchasing his first home.

I’ll never forget the first time you and mom came to visit me. I felt so honored that you were there because it gave me an opportunity to serve you and mom in my own home, and in my own unique way. I loved preparing homemade meals and showing you some of the great restaurants and sites of the city.

Do you remember the time you and I woke up early one morning? I took you to some of my favorite get aways, those places I went to (alone) for the purpose of reflection and time with God. Those times of contemplation always brought me back to where I needed to be. Usually I left with a much clearer picture; other times I left feeling the same. But either way, it took me out of the familiar. I enjoyed sharing those places with you because it gave you a very personal side of me, something I don’t share too often with others. No one knew where those places were and still don’t today. BTW, I already found two special places on Long Island. I wish I could take you to them and just go for a walk.

One of the experiences of prayer is that it seems that nothing happens. But when you stay with it and look back over a long period of prayer, you suddenly realize that something has happened. What is most close, most intimate, most present, often cannot be expereinced directly but only with a certain distance...When I am together with someone I love very much, we seldom talk about our relationship. The relationship, in fact, is too central to be a subject of talk. But later after we have separated and write letters, we realize how much it all meant to us, and we even write about it. - Henri J.M. (Nouwen The Genesse Diary)

The one place I took you to (while in FL) was the private beach. As we sat down and watched the waves hurl into the shore one right after the other, there was a certain joy for me and that, perhaps, really isn’t the best word to describe what I felt then. I was just so happy to be with you and see you relax. With the warm sun beating down on your face, I could see how much you enjoyed that time as I did.

We caught up on many things that had transpired since our last meeting. Like always, everything that came out of your mouth had substance. Even in your humor, I could always find some unique insight. You certainly taught me the importance of having joy within my life and how it could be used to break open hearts riddled with pain. You passed that gift on to us. Humor is so much a part of me. That’s probably why I love making others smile.

Our relationship had a certain chemistry that only God could have created between a father and son. It was dynamic and had a life of its own. You forced me to think differently, ask more questions, seek God’s perspective, and act on it. At its very core, our relationship demonstrated a certain authenticity and love that a father and son should have for one another. It was very earthy and real.

I heard a story about a father walking with his little boy. They were holding hands and, at one point, the little boy accidentally stepped into a puddle of mud. Looking up to his father, he said, “Dad, why don’t you watch out where I’m walking.”

That’s exactly what every young boy desires – to have a father watch over him. I can’t count the many times you looked out for me and help give my life direction. I pray my life offers that same type of guidance for others. In many ways, I sometimes feel that your life gave more meaning to me than I did yours. Obviously, I needed much personal growth. Even though I was living on my own, I was just a young man who had much to learn. When I felt “lost,” it was the care and love you and mom willingly gave me which helped navigate my life. Of course I had to go on a very long journey, and it was windy and had many curves, but I can see that it was the correct path for me. Today, I am who I am because of you and mother. I’m still on that path and intend on keeping the end in site.

Despite the many wonderful years of rigorous academic training, the knowledge I learned paled in comparison to the godly wisdom you shared with me. Most often God uses people and life experiences to impart powerful life principles into our lives. He uses wonderful individuals to shape and form us, making our lives more richer and fuller than if we did it alone. There’s no doubt in my mind that you and mother influenced me the most. I hope one day my children will say the same thing about me. For me, there’s nothing greater than knowing you had some part, hopefully a large part, in developing your own children.
With your recent passing, I obviously came against a major detour. But that detour caused me to stop, honestly look at my life, and carefully re-assess where I was going. As I now see it, the journey ahead for me has some new bumps to hurdle, some greater than others. There will always be plenty of challenges in my life but, with God at the centre, I will handle each one just as you graciously accepted yours. I can’t ever recall hearing you complain about the difficulties in your life. You went to God with each one and sought godly counsel from your closest confidents, starting with mom. I must do the same.

A lot of wonderful things have happened over the past few months, especially with my company. Of course there are plenty of challenges each day, but it’s exciting to see how things come to life after much hard work and prayer. However, I feel quite sad that I can’t share any of these things with you. I can’t take you out to dinner or take a weekend trip with you. My feelings stem from my desire to show you what God has been doing in my life. If anything, I want to remind you that what you instilled in me, I’m now living it.

Even with Skylar, the opportunities to really make a difference are beyond what I ever thought. As you taught me, I must choose excellence in everything I do especially with menial tasks. I have that passion to succeed because I watched you as a young boy give your very best to whatever you laid your hands on.But it’s not just the work I want to excel in; it’s the lives I’m privileged to know and understand on a far deeper level. I find on many occasions men and women sharing personal aspects of their lives with me. Some of these individuals are quite successful in their careers, but, beyond their obvious success, they’re human just like me. They have concerns, fears, and real needs. If there is a place I would want to succeed in, it would be in how I handle these relationships. The more I come to know them, the more I see how special they are and why God loves them so deeply.

Yesterday, I spent the day with Kristian at a seminar. I was in a room with some very gifted leaders, many of whom are impacting the world in remarkable ways. In some sense I didn’t feel I belonged at such a gathering. These men and women were not gathering to discuss their successes; these individuals were model leaders because of their own willingness to serve, and not be served. They, in fact, were impacting lives in large numbers.

Because this seminar was limited to a small number, in many ways, you should have taken my place. Since I was young boy, I observed how you stopped and listened to people. You specifically listened for their deepest needs and desires, and you did whatever it took to meet those needs. Every day was filled with opportunities to make a difference, and you did.

After your memorial service, some came up to me and shared that they never realized all the things you were involved in. They pointed out your dedication to help people in great need and your volunteer work with several non-profit organizations. Your influence was, in many ways, behind the scenes but not out of God’s vantage point. He saw you. He understood your motives. He saw your heart. And that was enough.

I recently received an e-mail from a well-respected leader in our country. In my previous correspondence with him, I shared much about you and your impact on my life. His response was this: “What a powerful image of your dad. He accomplished his most important goal, that is, for his children to follow the Lord.” As to how well I’m following, I’m not too sure. I only know that I want to grow and become like you. Why? Because you were the closest, tangible model I had of Jesus. You exemplified the attributes that scripture advocates a man of God should be and continue to become. Nonetheless, if you were here right now, I know you would tell me to let Jesus be my standard. He is, but it’s through you that I can know him in a very real way.

In a time where excellent models are in great demand, I want to do something in my lifetime to make a real difference. But I want my influence to begin on the inside – the heart: the most intimate part of a human being, where change is permanent, not momentary.

Dad, I’m not too sure what you can see of our lives now, but if there is one thing I want you to know, you were a great father. I’m so grateful to be an Agoglia and I pray one day my children will know the great heritage I had, and now they have, because of you.

As always, I love you and miss you deep from the heart.

Will speak with you soon,


TIDBIT: Originally written on March 5, 2005, right after attending a one day seminar.