Will Reeve pens touching tribute to his late father Christopher Reeve, reflecting on their shared interests for Father's Day

By Vanessa Etienne
June 21, 2021 12:32 PM
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Christopher Reeve, Will Reeve
Credit: Will Reeve/Instagram

Christopher Reeve's son Will Reeve celebrated Father's Day by writing a touching tribute to his later father.

On Sunday, Will, an ABC News correspondent, reflected on his memory of his dad. Will was just 3 years old when his father, best known for playing Superman, was paralyzed in 1995, and was only 11 when Christopher died in 2004. Two years later, tragedy struck again when his mother Dana died of lung cancer at the young age of 44.

In a letter posted on Good Morning America, the 29-year-old recalled watching his father on an old VHS tape of a National Geographic whale documentary, hosted by Christopher. Will noted that he grew up having that same love for whales despite not being able to share those moments together. Will said that while in Alaska on assignment, he was able to feel his father's spirit while recreating the moment from the documentary.

"We never got to see whales together. We never got to do a lot of stereotypical father-son stuff -- no catch in the backyard, no birds and the bees, no driving lessons, no prom pictures, no college visits, no guy's dinners in New York City," Will wrote. "While I haven't been able to celebrate with him on Father's Day for 17 years, I honor him today with joy and a dream realized. I saw whales in Alaska last night, up close, and felt dad was with me."

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Credit: Ken Regan/LFI

He continued, "I'm 29 now and have finally started to understand what honoring my dad actually means. I thought it meant following the roads he would want me to go down, or to live my life as his proxy, making up for lost time according to his thwarted dreams. Turns out, our parents want us to find out who we are and go be that. That is the ultimate form of honor."

Over the years, Will has stayed connected to his parents through his work, founding the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and becoming an activist for spinal cord injury research alongside his half-siblings Matthew and Alexandra.

"In our short time together, my dad gave me everything: his love and attention, his values and passions," Will added. "When he died, I was certain my purpose in life was to be him, to seamlessly carry on his legacy, to leave no separation between where Christopher Reeve ended and where Will Reeve began.

"Like many missing the main character every third Sunday in June, I never feel fully whole on Father's Day. But I find peace and strength in the fact that the greatest gift I can give my dad is to keep him in my heart while I follow it wherever it leads me."

The day before he died, Christopher spent quality time with his youngest child. He went to Will's hockey game, as he typically did, according to family friend Ken Regan. "He tried to go to all of Will's sporting events," the photographer told PEOPLE in 2004. They then spent the rest of the day watching baseball back at home. Will has often called his father "coolest guy" he's ever known, continuing his breakthrough research in his honor.