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Dear Dad

Dear Dad;

Happy Father’s Day. I miss you.

I held your hand as you died, but you’re still with me.

The lessons you taught me stayed with me. The love you gave me I’ve tried to give freely to others.

The fun we had is something I’ve tried to pass on to my three children.

Pam, of course, still misses you and we often talk about how you mentored her and her younger sister; how you always gave of yourself whatever you had to give.

I remember well the advice you gave me sitting on my sofa as you were dying of lung cancer. You told me you weren’t dying wishing you’d spent more time at work. You wished you had spent more time with me, my brother and sisters when we were younger.

I told you it was okay because you were with me now. But I saw the regret in your eyes. I changed a lot in my own life after that conversation and happily did so in order to spend more time with my boys as they grew up for I didn’t want to look back with that regret. I know you felt like you had failed in some way, but you never did.

You were instrumental in my life in so many ways, literally and metaphorically.

I owe you and mom my life. On this day as we celebrate the accomplishments of fathers, I want to thank you for being my little league baseball coach, my little league football coach, the guy who taught me to drive and remind you that you were my first and last hero in life.

I wanted to be just like you growing up. I didn’t see the faults you felt guilty about having then, and now as a father and soon to be a grandfather for the first time, I want you to remember we’re all human. We all make mistakes.

I was luckier than most growing up. Even after you and mom split, and despite the trials and tribulations of life, it is the hours fishing together, going shopping, seeing you with my own children, throwing a football with you and just spending time with you that I cherish.

I didn’t know you and I shared a common interest in Buddy Holly until you were sick. I didn’t hear of some of your tales of Hell raising you and your brothers engaged in until then either. I’m glad I got to know you even better when you were sick because it made me understand who I am and made me feel okay to be who I have become.

Your sense of humor was infectious. You’re ability to haggle for a lower price is a lesson that stayed with me long after you left this earth. Your sense of adventure guided some of my own choices in life.

Dad, I want you to know I’ve tried to make you proud and I hope somewhere right now you're with a bourbon in your hand and a smile on your face.

I remember you every day of my life. It is always hard on Father’s Day for me with you no longer being here because I still wish we could talk by telephone even for just a few moments - to laugh at the world, talk about sports, your love for the Dallas Cowboys and my disdain for them or your fan-filled fantasy of court side season tickets to every Kentucky Wildcat home basketball game.

You taught me family comes first. You taught me to accept others who think differently from me, and I watched you implement that daily while you lived. I watched you give the shirt off your back to others (literally) when they needed help.

I remember the man who threw himself on the ground crying at your funeral who swore he’d have been dead or in jail if it hadn’t been for your help.

You never thought yourself to be the success you believed your mother, in particular, wanted you to be. I know you felt you never measured up to her expectations. But I watched her at your funeral cry harder than most and realized then the fault was in her inability to accept you for yourself - mostly because she was so proud of you and always felt you could do so much more.

I don’t have any of the answers to life it seems - even having outlived you by three years.

But I do know this - you are still my hero.

Family first. Love unconditionally. Accept others for their mistakes because we have our own.

Never land the first punch in a fight.

Never give up.

Smile, laugh and raise Hell.

None of us get out of this life alive, but you taught me to live it to the fullest.

I only hope I’ve been as effective a parent as you were.

I love you and thank you for giving me the opportunity to grow up loved. I wish everyone could be so lucky.



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