Dear Dad:

I hope you are able to receive this message where you are. I don’t quite understand how this works when you have left this plain, so I’m trusting in things beyond my knowing that you’ll get it in a timely manner. Truth is, it is sure to be faster than the trusty US Mail you had come to rely on for delivery of messages when you were still among us!

So anyway, it’s Father’s Day again Sunday. It surely focuses my attention on the memories of you, dad, but it seems a bit artificial. I mean, I think of you so often in the regular course of living my life now that calling out one particular day to do so just doesn’t seem to make sense. You’re there when someone mentions how I tend to organize my tools or shop (when it’s not a total disaster) and I think “That’s because dad taught me to ‘put thing back where you found them.’” Or the times I return a borrowed tool to a friend and they comment how nice it is I cleaned it up, filled it with fuel, or replaced a worn part and I think “That’s because dad always said: ‘Give things back a little better than you got them.’” (By the way, that has paid off BIG TIME! I’ve had the use of some pretty sweet tools and pieces of equipment along the way and I am CONVINCED it would not have happened had I not put that adage into practice.) And then there are the times I’m buying a gift for someone (for THAT I have to thank mom) and I think “don’t buy something that requires them to buy something else,” because I remember the many times you mentioned preferring gifts that were complete to those that required you to now run out and buy some piece or part.

Oh, and dad, that picture of us when we still lived on the farm and we had caught the HUGE Northern Pike in the Missouri River . . . do you remember that? That fish was as big as me! Well that picture hangs on our refrigerator for everyone to see, including my grandkids (you’d love them by the way, and they would love you right back). Sorry to say, that is one of the FEW fish I’ve caught over the years. I guess I should have paid better attention to your fishing instruction.

BTW (that means “by the way”—it’s a new thing since we last saw each other), I had the chance to visit the WWII memorial in DC last year. You were there in some way I don’t understand, I know, but man I wished we could have walked around there together! I’ll bet you would have had some good stories to share . . . if you’d wanted to. Last week was the 50th anniversary of the D-Day invasion and I sure thought of you then. They interviewed a glider pilot who glided behind enemy lines to land and I recalled how you had volunteered for that program and how they closed it down prior to your graduation. (To be honest, dad, I was always kind of glad that happened. I think it increased the odds of you coming home and, well . . . without that the rest of this wouldn’t have been possible.)

Say, how is JoAnne? It was hard on Mom to have her go first. Heck, who am I kidding, it was hard on all of us! Sure do miss my big sis too. I’m glad she is there to celebrate this special day with you. Give her a hug from me, will ya?

The family place is still there and mom has given it a steady dose of TLC since you left. In fact, it’s getting a new lease on life now that other family members are living with mom to help her. She’s such a strong woman . . . but I know you already know that. I’ll bet Sunday will be bittersweet for her too.

We’re doing well, dad. Our lives have led us to some phenomenal places, some amazing work, and provided the chance to meet truly special people. For that I’m thankful. But more than anything, I am thankful today for the role you had in helping to set the course for my path. It wasn’t perfect . . . I don’t know if it ever is when it comes to parenting. But it WAS my beginning and there was plenty of good in it. I know you tried hard to be a good dad and, while there were challenges for you, all in all you did a mighty fine job!

I love you dad. Always will. Happy Father’s Day!

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