Messages and lessons, from a dad to his teenage son

Random texts, notes and letters on life’s everyday lessons, from ‘call your mom’ to ‘don’t listen to doubters.’

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John W. Fountain

John W. Fountain

Rich Hein/Sun-Times Media

This week’s column is the first in a series titled, “Love Letters To My Son,” a collection of random texts, notes and letters between John Fountain and his son, now 17 and a high school senior. 

Monday Oct. 16, 2017 — Dad: “Hey, son… How about making your dad some popcorn with Vitter and bringing it up…”

Son: “U mean butter?”

Dad: “Yeah, lol. Not Vitter.”

Saturday Nov. 4, 2017, A note of encouragement — Dad: “This is one of those nights you will hardly remember when you get older, son, take it in stride.”

Monday, Jan. 11, 2018 — Dad: “I’m calling you, boy. Where you at?”

No reply.

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Sunday March 11, 2018 — Dad: “Son, we are trying to protect you, not stunt on you. Lift you, not weigh you down. We have to know the folks who host these parties.

“One day you will be on your own — one day soon. And the decisions you make have potentially life-altering consequences. Know that we will always want the best for you; that the world can be a lonely place; and that until you meet your bride, you will not know anyone whose love and hope for you is comparable to ours.”

Tuesday, March 13, 2018 — Dad: “Hey son, I didn’t get a chance to tell you this morning to not go too hard at track because your body is still recovering from being sick. I’m proud of you. DAD.”

Friday, May 18, 2018 — Dad: “Haircut tomorrow at 8 a.m. with Wu The Barber”

Son: “Thanks Dad, sorry about that earlier. I appreciate what you be doing for me and I’m sorry about the attitude thing. Thanks again Dad.”

Sunday, July 15, 2018, son away at college summer program— Dad: “…Be a scholar & a gentleman but protecting yourself from even the appearance of evil. And, by the way, have fun.”

Monday, July 16, 2018, 7:42 a.m. — Dad: “You up and about?”

Son: “Yep.”

Dad: “Just shoot your mom a text so that she knows you’re up and about. She worries about her ‘Juice,’ lol.

Son: “All right, I got you Dad.”

Sunday, July 22, 2018 — Dad: “Hey, Son, everything ok?”

Son: “Everything’s good Dad, thanks for asking. Sorry that I didn’t respond. I fell asleep kinda early ‘cause it was a long day yesterday.”

Dad: “Good, I thought you was slippin, lol. You’re maturing.”

Son: “Oh, ok. I might have slipped up a lil’ bit here and there last year. But I’m still the same, lol.”

Dad: “Yep. It’s allowed. All a part of the process.”

Sunday, July 14, 2019, son away again at college summer program — Dad: “Pics of you on campus would be fine… Anyway, Son, call your mom!”

Son: “Ok on the pics and on calling mom… Is she all right? Is she kinda freaking out or does she just wanna see me? lol”

Dad: “Son, it’s about being sensitive to your mother’s heart. They don’t always say it or show how much they miss us. What I wouldn’t give to talk to my mother again and to see and know the impact my voice, love and care have on her soul…

“Point is, and you will learn this about mothers and women: They don’t always say what they want or expect or need. That’s our job... Remember that — even if I am not always here to tell you so.” 

July 2019 — Dad: “‘Study to shew thyself approved unto God...’ II Timothy 2:15. Son, don’t be afraid of new challenges, don’t listen to doubters or those who take the easy way. Apply yourself, ask God to lead and guide you in all your ways and he will direct your paths.

“Trust the process. It takes the process to make you. It doesn’t always feel good. But like bad-tasting medicine, it’s good for you. Keep the faith. Love, DAD”

Email John Fountain at

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