I am a very lucky man.

It's Father's Day here stateside, and I've just sat down to a nice breakfast with dear old dad, and handed over some cheap baubles to express my admiration and appreciation for everything he's ever done.

Some people don't get to be that flippant about the strongest bond a young man (and sometimes woman) can have.

On Salon.com, there was a recent posting of Father's Day poetry and letters, written by juvenile hall residents in various San Francisco facilities. The inmates have a monthly publication, The Beat Within, where they can anonymously submit anything, from song lyrics to drawings to essays to .. well you get the idea. Here is one sampling of the holiday correspondence:

Thanks to my mom's dead boyfriend

I remember I had my first drink at age four. Bottoms up -- one, two, and three swigs of peppermint schnapps. You just had to give me some because I asked. Now I'm an alcoholic like you were. I hope I don't die falling down drunk with a brain aneurysm like you did.

Thanks for my first drink!

I remember when you beat the living crap out of me every night from getting drunk so much. Thank you for the bloody welts on my back. I remember when the social worker came to the house when I was three or four and got mom and me out the house. We took the first greyhound out of San Diego we could afford, after living in a hotel for a month just to get away from you.

Thanks for all the threats on my family!

I remember when you died.

Thank you for finally leaving me and my mom alone!

And another:

You would always beat me

I remember when I was in kindergarten. You would always beat me. I was only a little girl and I didn't really know what was going on. It was all because of drugs. Dad, you really hurt me, and even though it got worse by the week, I still love you, because you're my Dad. I've had a hard life, Dad, and I just want to let you know I haven't forgotten that, and I still hurt inside.

So, Father's Day or not, if you have someone in your life who loves you unconditionally and takes care of you and provides for you, be very thankful. Such a thing is rarer than gold.