A Letter to My Father

I ran across this from nearly ten years ago. Since it’s Father’s Day today, I thought that I’d run this again since I still feel the same way.

Dear Dad,

A month ago today, when last we spoke, we exchanged handshakes and snappy salutes. I noticed again that afternoon, as I always do, your silver U.S. Army Infantry ring, worn and smooth from the decades of wear, never imagining the next time I saw it, it would be surrendering it to accompany you in your urn.

Supporting Mom during those first days after our last salute kept me busy. Just as our family always has, we took care of business first. Mom and I went through your briefcase and pulled out the important legal documents and tried to figure out which bills would be coming due and when. Don’t worry, though – all of us got Mom squared away so that she’d continue to have income without interruption. Really, you saw to all of that through your prior planning and dedication. For me, it was just phone calls to the Army and the Railroad Retirement Board. No sweat. Gotcha covered.

The hardest thing I had to do – ever – was to leave you behind in that beautiful place you chose for you and Mom down in Dayton. I was fine through it all up until I had to leave. I rode out with the family to the entrance, saw them off, and got back in your car (which I’d been using, and yes, I filled up the tank when I was done) and went back up to see you again. I walked up, perfectly composed and stood near the temporary marker. Yeah, it was cliché, but I came to the position of attention and saluted you one more time and started walking back to the car for the two hour trip back home.

Yeah, I lost it then. Pretty badly, too. I sat in the car for a time and struggled with the understanding that I had to leave and the anguish of leaving you behind. But what’s done is done, I suppose. I finally put the car in gear, took one last trip around the grounds and headed home in silence, except for the few phone calls I made to let people know that it was done.

I’m lucky that we got to talk in the hospital, albeit briefly, and even luckier that at various points in my life, I’ve stopped to tell you that you’d raised all three of us right. That I was proud of you. And I admired you. All three of we offspring feel that way, you know. Just sayin’.

You’d be horrified to know that I’ve been posting photos of you throughout your life on the Internet. Yeah, that computer thing you keep hearing about that you wanted no part of. So yeah, you’re getting your dose of the internet now in spite of your revulsion for computers and technology.

I’m doing it anyway because I’m still proud of you.

Even with all the accomplishments I’ve enjoyed, the one thing I will never be is as good of a man – as good of a person as you were. You wrote the book on leading by example, not by intimidation. Cooperation, not confrontation. Thanks. I ‘preciate that. Your sterling example has served me well over the years, even though I know I still fall way short.

I have been telling people for years that when I look in the mirror or hear your words escaping my mouth unexpectedly, that I’m turning into my father.

Just so you know, I’m perfectly OK with that.

Miss you,


Here’s a quick shout-out to Andy, Jon, Garrett, and Nate – four of the best kids ever. I miss you all, gentlemen.


A Letter to My Father — 9 Comments

  1. Dan, what a beautiful tribute to your father. Lisa and I were talking about you the other day, hoping you’re doing okay and saying how we miss your cheerful, albeit, irreverent attitude around the office. Every once in a while we start laughing when we talk about all the commercials you were in. We sure do miss you.

    • Hey, Dawn! Wonderful to hear from you. Thanks for your kind words about this post. I miss y’all, too. Please send my regards to the team. Be well and stay safe out there!!

      • You, too, Dan. Stay safe. How are the boys doing? Lisa still talks about the trip you had to South Carolina. Send Lisa and me a text the next time you are in town so we can meet for lunch with masks and all–when it is safe for all of us vulnerable folks.

        • You betcha! Boys are OK. I text with them multiple times a day, so we are in touch. Looking forward to lunch one day!

  2. Dan,
    Little did I know that a few weeks after I left my message for you, I would lose my own father. As I read over your letter to your father, I must admit that I understand your words much more deeply. I heard that someone thought that you had moved up to our neck of the woods. Is that true?

      • Hi, Dan.
        No, not in your neck of the woods. Still in central eastern part of U.S. Thanks for the Christmas wishes. Back at you with Easter now thrown in.

        Our family is still going through the firsts without our father. The hardest is yet to come with mom and what would have been their 60th wedding anniversary and his birthday after that.

        Nothing really prepares you for the ongoing sorrow, does it? I think about him all the time but can’t imagine how our mom must feel going on 80 and having to move out of the home of her dreams to a smaller house in a different state.

        My soul groans for her incredible loss and welcomes any prayers for her. We can’t even get her registered for COVID vaccines because she is in a different state. Maybe we should do a campaign with the governor of her state to get her to the top of the line. By the time we login to the COVID sites, all of the slots are taken. (sigh)

        I read the Nate mac and cheese post and smiled. He sure looks a lot older than the last time we saw him. Hard to believe it has been almost 2 years. Time flies.

        Make sure when COVID is a shadow in our minds to let us know when you come to visit our area. Lisa and I would love to have dinner.

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