Dad, I thought laughter would make you love me

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To: Dad

From: Jay Mandyam

Charity: David Lynch Foundation

Sponsor: HairStyleGlam App

Dear Dad,

There is a lot about you I do not know. You were secretive about many aspects of your life. We never talked about your hopes or your dreams. I am not sure what your life entailed before you had a family. And for a long time, Dad, I truly didn’t know if you loved me.

Showing emotion was not your strong point. An immigrant from India and a professor of electrical engineering, you were serious and focused all the time, with only one exception.

Sitcoms.

Jay with his father as a young child.

You loved watching sitcoms. That was the only time I saw you let loose and enjoy yourself.

You tried to predict the next joke and usually, you got it right.

Then, you would raise your hand and say, “I should have been a scriptwriter.”

Mom would respond, “Well, if you were, we’d have more money.”

Subconsciously, I got it in my head that if I could be on a sitcom, I could make you laugh. If I could make you laugh, I thought you would definitely love me.

In eighth grade, I told you that one day I would be a comedian. I think you thought it was a phase, but you still supported me. During school, I would write jokes and when you picked me up from the bus stop I would test them on you. You would tell me why the joke worked or did not work.

If I could make you laugh, I thought you would definitely love me.

In high school, we started to fight a lot. I resented you for not allowing me to go to the school my friends attended, simply because you said you wanted me to go closer to our house.

I was angry at you and became isolated and anti-social, often staying in my room reading books about standup comedy. However, even though I was upset and rebellious, you still took me to comedy shows and encouraged me. During my freshman year of college, we went to see a local Indian comedian and you suggested I ask him questions about how to get my career started.

Jay’s father often worried about Jay’s financial stability.

However, even though you encouraged my interest in comedy when I graduated from college and pursued it, it became another point of contention in our relationship. I lost jobs. I quit jobs. You were frustrated that I wasn’t making a steady income. You wanted me to be financially stable but I wanted to do whatever it took to live my dream.

After a breakup with a girlfriend, I became unhappy and depressed. I never told you this Dad, but I had a drinking problem. After my third DUI, I stopped abusing alcohol and began to see a therapist. That’s when I began to appreciate you more. She helped me realize that even though you didn’t show a lot of emotion or affection, you always tried to be a good dad. You showed up to every basketball game. Every band recital, you were there. And even though you were irked by the financial instability of my career, you found great joy in all the access I had to celebrities.

My therapist suggested I write you a letter apologizing for the past and showing gratitude for all the effort you put into being my father. Just as the letter arrived, so did the news. That same week you were diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. Doctors told us you had one year to live.

When I came home to see you, we would sit on the couch and watch comedies together. And while our relationship was improving, you remained worried about my future.

Jay has traveled the country doing standup comedy.

Toward the end of your life, I came home to help you move. The TV got stuck on a marathon of The Hughleys, starring comedian D.L. Hughley. I couldn’t change the channel, so I watched all night long. The very next night I was at a restaurant in Dallas and there he was, D.L. Hughley. I didn’t expect to see him in Dallas. If the TV hadn’t gotten stuck on him the night before, I probably wouldn’t have even recognized him.

I approached him and he invited me to his improv show the next night. Exhausted and drained from taking care of you, I almost didn’t go because it was an hour from your house. But something inside of me pushed me. That night, D.L. put me on stage. I did well and he invited me back the next day. That was the day the doctor told us that the end was near for you.

I went to the show to meet D.L. late that night. He asked how you were doing and I told him you were not doing well.

He told me to call him when I returned to Los Angeles.

He said, “When you get back to Los Angeles, I will put you to work.”

I told you what D.L. said and two days later you passed away.

It’s almost like you were holding on to make sure I was OK, to make sure I could take care of myself.

I want you to know D.L. kept his promise and he has kept me consistently working as a comedian and writer since you died nearly two years ago. Last year, I got my first television writing job, working on a Netflix show and this year I got my first producer credit, working on D.L.’s talk show.

Jay says D.L. Hughley has provided him with opportunities, allowing him to make a living in comedy.

While I am not wealthy, you would be happy to know I have had enough money to live off of my work in comedy as opposed to supplementing my income with a day job.

Dad, I am a working comedian just like I planned and I have come to realize you were my greatest influence.

But I want you to know that I no longer do comedy because I don’t know if you love me, I am passionate about comedy because it is now my way of saying, I love you, too.

I hope there are Seinfeld reruns in heaven,

Jay

Written with Lauren Brill

About the author:

Jay Mandyam is a Los Angeles-based comedian and writer. He is a producer on The D.L. Hughley Show and appeared on Modern Family.

About the sponsor and the charity:

The David Lynch Foundation promotes Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace. It also provides opportunities for children who want to learn to meditate.  HairstyleGlam App is donating $50 to The David Lynch Foundation in honor of the first 50 shares of Jay’s letter.

The Unsealed will match the donation if we get 100 new subscribers and 100 new Facebook followers by 11/9/19.

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[…] enough, in the email was your letter to your late father, former NBA basketball star Anthony Mason, talking about your struggles after his death. You wrote […]

Sweet Lauren, I agree completely with the promise that Brian asked you to make. Frankly, it is the only way that I know to love; totally, completely, wholly and unconditionally. You deserve nothing less, nor does your future love.

Wow. What a truly moving and powerful story. We often take for granted the small gifts we give each other just by being present. I'm sad for the heartache. I'm glad you stayed and became. Who knows what little girl or boy will be attributing their life's purpose to some kindness you shared. Peace and Sunshine

You’re welcome Lauren looking forward to all the future stories :)

Thank you Tony. I appreciate all your support.

Thank you Tony. I appreciate all your support.

I’m sorry to hear about Brian but he was right you are too beautiful to not receive roses Lauren:)

[…] Here is why you need to stop being nice and start being loud […]

Thanks for this! So what movie set did you get on?

So nice Roger <3

Pat, Your letter touched me in a very profound way. It left me in tears in the middle of my work day. It made me want to share something with you. On a July morning in 2007 a police officer answered a 911 call I had made when my Mother went into cardiac arrest. Between that officer, my best friend and the fire fighters who showed up minutes later they were able to restart her heart, however at the hospital she passed away an hour later. At the end of his shift that officer stopped by my home to check on the situation and cried when I told him the unfortunate news I received only 4 hours prior. He tried to apologize to me. I looked at the anguish in his eyes and asked him directly what for? He described the ways he felt sorry. What I want to leave you with was my reply to him. I told him he had nothing to be sorry for because he answered the call in what was the darkest moment in my life. I told him that he was a hero regardless because it takes a special person to answer calls like that. You are a hero to people Pat. No one can ever take that away from you. I understand the process you're going through as I've been there myself and like you I still struggle with it when no one is looking. You aren't alone in this. I hope your healing process continues on and you can regain the happiness in this beautiful life. You'll always be a hero to those people, because you were there when the call came Best wishes Roger Chamberlain

Ruth, your letter moved me to tears. Once upon a time I was very closed off about the LGBT community but over a course of several years, I turned my fear into understanding and I actively stand with the community for their equal rights because it is the right thing to do.