Father’s Day Memories

Father’s Day has always been a difficult day for me. And for good reason.

Because my father died when I was only 8 years old. I don’t have a lot of memories of him. I really can’t remember celebrating Fathers Day with him, or Christmas, or my birthday. I was just too young, unfortunately. to have very many memories of him. 

What I do remember are bits and pieces. And why these particular memories stick with me I have no idea…except for the last one.

Like the time I heard him calling to my mom from our little chicken house in the back yard, “Rachel (my mom’s name), bring me my gun and bring it now! Don’t ask why!” I had no idea what was going on, even when I heard a loud shot. I found out later he’d gone out to the feed area to get the chicken feed for our little flock and a copperhead snake had lunged at him! Fortunately it missed him. And he took care of the snake so it wouldn’t ever be a threat to me or my mom.

I remember going out on the river in our hometown with him, just my dad and me, and going through a bunch of water lilies. They were so pretty. My mom didn’t go with us because she didn’t like going on boats. It was our time…my daddy and me. I had no idea at the time, and neither did he, that there weren’t going to be any more times like that.

I remember watching him in our garage when he was actually building his own boat. I wanted to help, but I was too little. But I watched him as often as I could, because I was fascinated with his woodworking. 

My dad was a talented carpenter who made some beautiful pieces of furniture for my mom, and a very special canopy doll bed that he had just finished and gave me for the last Christmas he was with us. I still have it, and soon I’ll be handling it down to our granddaughters; I’ve waited til they’re old enough to take care of it.

I also remember the last time I saw him. He’d been admitted to John’s Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore because of excruciating headaches, and they were running tests on him to see what was wrong. My uncle drove my mom and me up to see him, and they doctors let him come down to the lobby to see us and visit. I remember him standing there in his yellow robe, and him telling me they were trying to make him better so he could get back home. I still remember talking to him and hugging him goodbye. 

Two days later my mom got a call in the middle of the night that they were going to do surgery on him, and she needed to be there. My uncle took her up there while my aunt took care of me.

The next thing I remember was seeing my mom walking up to the house with my uncle holding on to her. She was crying. And I’ll never forget her words to me: ”Your dad isn’t coming home anymore.”

I missed out on so many wonderful times we could’ve had, but so did my dad. He missed birthdays, Christmases, dance recitals, piano recitals. He missed teaching me to drive, my high school and college graduations. He missed out on walking me down the aisle, and probably would have kept me from making the first two wedding mistakes. He missed meeting his granddaughter Ashley, who he would have adored as much as my mother did.

My mother missed out on so much as well, being left to raise me by herself, while working full time and even going back to college without the help of her husband.  But she did it on her own, and I am still so very proud of her for it. 

She missed so many years of marriage with the only man she’d ever loved. And I missed out on having two parents who adored me. And in that time, some 60+ years ago, that was very unusual.

My uncle stepped in and acted as a surrogate father, and I loved him dearly, but he couldn’t totally take the place of my own daddy.

So on this Father’s Day, I want to remind all of you to cherish your dad, and your granddad, if you’re lucky enough to have him as well. Love them, celebrate them, and be thankful for them. Life is short, and tomorrow is not promised 

I know I will see my dad again one day, and I’ll share those moments with him that we missed, although my mom has most likely already filled him in.

Daddy, I love you, and I’ll miss you forever…until we meet again.

Happy Father’s Day!

In Memory of My Daddy

I published this last year, but it’s certainly worthwhile to publish again. Happy Father’s Day in heaven, Daddy! I love you and I still miss you!


Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.

I was blessed with a wonderful dad, as far as I can remember. He loved me, and he loved my mother. They tried for twelve years to have me. Twelve long years, I’m sure. And then his time with me was cut short by cancer when I wasn’t quite nine years old.

No, life isn’t fair. It wasn’t fair to him, or my mother, or to me. We should’ve had more time with him. I should’ve had the opportunity to get to know him and have those special father-daughter times that my girlfriends had with their fathers. Like my daughter fortunately has had with her dad, and still continues to have, even though she’s married and is now a mother to her own precious baby girl.

I should’ve had the chance to buy lots of Father’s Day cards, make Father’s Day gifts, and pick out awful Father’s Day ties that he would have said were absolutely perfect when he knew he’d never wear them. I should’ve had the chance to go shopping for my mother’s birthday and Christmas gifts with him; to have him take me to the beach and teach me to swim. I should’ve had him to teach me to ride a bike, help me pick out a puppy. I should’ve had the chance to introduce him to boyfriends and interrogate them, and get his opinion about them later.

He should’ve had the opportunity to go to my dance recitals, my piano recitals, and my high school and college graduations. He should’ve been there to teach me to drive. And to see me all dressed up for the prom. To give me advice on colleges, career choices, and hug me when my heart was broken over some foolish boy.

He should’ve had the chance to have my future husband ask him for permission to marry me. I should’ve had the honor of having him walk me down the aisle when I got married. And to be there with my mother when she met her granddaughter for the first time.

I missed all of that, and up until now I’ve never expressed these thoughts. Because they are too painful. Even at my age of sixty-six it still hurts to think about all that I missed. And all that he missed. So many memories that should have been made, but weren’t.

But they weren’t made, because my dad died. He wanted to make those memories with me, but the Lord had other plans. I didn’t understand it then, and I still don’t understand it now.


I treasure the few memories I have of my father. From the pictures I found of my first years as a child, I discovered a man who delighted in taking photos of me on special occasions. A man who spent hours in his basement workshop making special handmade furniture and toys for my Christmas presents. A man who bought me a puppy one Christmas and hid it in that workshop, staying down there all night so it wouldn’t cry and wake the rest of us up and ruin the surprise. A man who once took me out on the river in his boat one bright spring afternoon and promised me one day we’d go fishing together, and he’d teach me all about one of his favorite hobbies. I just wish I’d had that opportunity.

And there was the man who wrote me the most wonderful letter when he was in the hospital the last week of his life, telling me how much he missed me, and how he couldn’t wait to get well and be back home with us. The man who lives in my last memory of him, standing in the lobby of Johns Hopkins Hospital in his yellow bathrobe, hugging me, and telling me he loved me, and he’d be home soon.

He was. But not the home where we’d all thought he would be.

My memories of him, like his life, were abruptly cut short.

I know he wouldn’t have left me if it had been up to him. But life is not always fair, and tomorrow is never promised.

If you are fortunate enough to still have your dad around, give him a big hug and kiss every chance you have. Listen to his stories, and take lots of pictures.

And appreciate each and every Father’s Day you’re blessed to have with him.

Daddy, I still love you. And I still miss you.

Any Man Can Be a Father

Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.

We’ve all heard this so many times. But did you ever stop to think about it? This has been a difficult piece to write but one I feel needs to be written. Because this is happening far too often.

I was blessed with a wonderful dad. I just didn’t have enough time with him to get to know him the way I should have. You see, my father died before I was even nine years old. Yes, he left me, and I struggled for years with those feelings of loss and abandonment.

But my father wouldn’t have left me, if it had been up to him. He wasn’t given a choice. He died from a disease that perhaps today’s technology could have prevented, or at least diagnosed earlier.

Unfortunately not all of today’s modern fathers are like that. Many fathers decide that they aren’t ready for the 24/7 responsibilities of fatherhood. It’s easier to let the mothers do the parenting. Far too many take off and leave not only their wives but their kids behind, and stay almost totally out of their children’s lives, unless it suits their schedule to actually see them or talk to them.

They ignore child support orders, because after all, why should they give their ex-wife money? Never mind that she needs the money to help support his children. He has new responsibilities now, and those children aren’t a priority any more. Someone else can handle them. Children are a gift from God. How in the world can someone throw them away, ignore them?

There are more of these fathers today than we want to think about. Single moms are raising their children as best they can, with little or no help from the father who helped create them. They have to be both mother AND father to them. And speaking as a child who was raised in that environment, even though my circumstances were far different, I can honestly say it is a far more difficult task than anyone should ever have to do.

And it’s not fair to the children. They are missing out on so much. So are their fathers. But their fathers make that choice; the children don’t.

I’m not speaking about the fathers who are kept from their children by ex-wives and ex-girlfriends because of various reasons that may or may not have any merit; that’s a totally different topic for a different day. I’m referring to the fathers who decide not to be involved in their children’s lives for their own personal, and yes, selfish, reasons. Who have disappointed their children in so many ways, and yes, those children will have to deal with those feelings of abandonment for years, well into adulthood.

Those fathers most likely don’t think about how that little girl dreams of her elusive father coming by to pick her up, take her somewhere; or just sit with her, talk with her, hug her, and show her that, yes, he actually does love her. They don’t think about the times they promise to come get their children, and then forget about them. They don’t think about that little boy sitting by the door patiently waiting for a knock that doesn’t come, who then goes to bed and cries himself to sleep, as his mother tries to make excuses for someone she knows doesn’t deserve him.

Then there are the children who, instead of admitting to themselves that their fathers don’t want, them any more, fantasize that their fathers are somewhere far away, maybe in the CIA as a spy, off fighting bad guys and can’t get back to them. Maybe they’re somewhere seriously wounded, or very ill, or have amnesia and don’t remember anything. Surely they wouldn’t purposely abandon them.

What a sad, sad state of affairs.

And I’m not referring to the fathers who stay in their children’s lives after a divorce or breakup; who maintain a relationship with them, attending school functions, dance recitals, and soccer games. Who call their kids regularly, and take them out for dinner and ice cream. They’re still dads to their kids. They know their children are more important than their own lives, or the fact that he and their mother couldn’t make it together.

Are you seeing the difference here?

It’s a sad commentary on today’s life to think about how many children there are whose fathers don’t care enough about them to try and stay in their lives. Who refuse to pay child support, or pay it grudgingly and think that’s the only obligation they have. Who show up once in a while and then wonder why their child doesn’t want to have very much to do with them.

Where did the sense of honor, the sense of responsibility, and yes, the sense of loving someone (someone you helped create) more than your very own life disappear to?

As you’re reading this, if you’re in a situation in which you don’t have custody of your children, ask yourself…are you a father or a DAD? There’s a huge difference. And chances are, if you’ve read this to the end, you’re definitely a DAD!

And yes, I know there are circumstances in which mothers act the same way. Be prepared for our next article…coming this Thursday.

Your First Father’s Day

An open letter to our son-in-law….

It seems you’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. Even before you and our daughter were married, the two of you were talking about having kids. Even to the point of picking out names.

You couldn’t wait to become her husband. And then you couldn’t wait to become a dad. You were ready. Even last year when we were all celebrating Father’s Day with your father and your father-in-law, you were talking about how you’d celebrate when it was your day.

Well, that day is here. It’s your first Father’s Day.

From the time you found out you were going to be a dad, I could tell you were going to be a great one! Sure, you were shocked when you found out. And a bit surprised, of course. That’s natural. It does take a little getting used to.

It’s no longer going to be just about you and your wife. Now it’s going to be all about your child.

You immediately started talking about all the things you’d be doing with the child when he/she was old enough. Hunting and fishing and four wheeling. Then you found out you were having a girl instead of a boy, and you immediately decided you would have to buy her a pink fishing rod and a pink rifle. Plus a new shotgun for yourself to ward off the boys when she was older!

As the days got closer you enjoyed putting her crib together, and all the other baby necessities. You painted her room, and talked about how you couldn’t wait til she got here.

You touched your wife’s tummy and felt the baby moving, and you had the biggest grin on your face. You talked to her, and told her how excited you were to be having her in your life. You just couldn’t wait!

Those last few weeks all you could talk about was how ready you were for her to be here. Those last few days of your wife being in slow labor, and those trips to the hospital and being sent back home were excruciating for both of you.

And then…finally, it was time. You stood in the delivery room, gowned and gloved, beside your wife, and couldn’t believe the miracle that was taking place before your eyes. Your baby daughter, your own little girl, was lifted out and placed in her mother’s arms, with you beside her. A moment never to be forgotten. You were finally a full-fledged dad. Your world was forever changed.

You walked beside little Rachel as her isolette was wheeled into the nursery, never letting her out of your sight. You made sure she was all right and her bracelets matched yours before you left to check on your wife. Watching you those first few minutes, I saw a new person…a man whose life was totally complete. You were now not only a husband, but a father. Something you’d dreamed about for years.

You’ve taken on the role of daddy in an awesome way. You fed her her first bottle and changed her first diaper. The look on your face every time you looked at her that first day spoke volumes. Proud. Loving. Even amazed. And you still have that same look every time you look at her.

Since she’s been home these first few weeks you’ve been an amazing dad. You’ve held her, fed her, changed her, gotten up with her at night when her mother couldn’t because of recovering from her C-section. You’ve talked to her, cuddled her, and called her your “little peanut.” You’re already the dad you were meant to be, and will only continue to show us this is what you were meant to be.
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So Chris, on this, your first official Father’s Day, let me be the first to tell you “Happy Father’s Day”! Ben and I are so proud of you, and so glad you and Ashley have blessed us with little Rachel. She’s one lucky little girl!

It only gets better!