small pieces of joy

pieces of joy in each day

dad’s day

on June 15, 2014

Happy Father’s Day. 

I’ve been having a hard time saying ‘happy’ and ‘Father’s Day’ in the same sentence. It’s not because I’m not happy about fathers, mine in particular, but I’m finding it hard to celebrate this day without my dad physically on earth. 

The anticipation of the day started last weekend and has been affecting me physically too. It’s amazing how grief takes a hold of all aspects of you. Lately my mind has been going back to what things were like a year ago. Remembering the moments when dad’s decline started and each step of the way following. 

This time last year I was on my way to KC with George in tow. This was right after Dad told me he wanted me to come home. We knew at this point there wasn’t a whole time left. How much, we weren’t sure, but when Dad said he wanted me to come, I came. 

The night before I left South Bend I sat down at my desk and constructed a poem for a Father’s Day gift for Dad. At that point I knew it would probably be the last Father’s Day gift I would be able to give him, so I wanted to make it count. 

After many drafts and messed up copies, I wrote it out, almost perfectly, to give to Dad upon arrival in KC.

I didn’t know how important this poem would be to me at the time.

Fast forward a year to today. 

I have spent the last week trying to figure out the best way to honor Dad on Father’s Day. I hated the idea of not buying a card for him (or for Grandpa). I needed some physical way to honor him. 

My counselor told me about how some Native Americans believed that if they burned a prayer or a wish for the future the smoke would deliver it to the Heavens. Similar to the smoke from incense rising our prayers to God. 

So I wrote a letter to Dad (and one for Grandpa) along with a prayer. 


Then I put it in a clay pot and set it on fire.


As the letters burned I read my poem.


“When you first held me,

When you soothed my cries,

When I fell asleep in your arms,

                                                You loved.

When you gardened with me,

And played in the lake,

When you unhooked a fish for me,

                                                You loved.

When you cheered for me in the stands,

Or coached from the bench,

When you saw every game and concert,

                                                You loved.

When you said, “Nothing good ever happens after midnight,”

When you gave advice and fixed my car,

And when you sent me off to college,

                                                You loved.

When you walked me down the aisle,

When you shed a proud tear,

When you visited my new family

When you held your grandson so tight,

                                                You loved.

When I think of you always,

And I say a simple prayer,

When your jokes make me smile,

When your strength and courage inspire me,

And when I give you a big hug,

            Know that with all the love you give,

You are loved, too.”

Then I played what has now become my family’s theme song. “Hymn Song” by Utah Philipps. I played the youtube video of Lil’ Rev singing it in our living room. It was a perfect ending to a Father’s Day ritual. 

I miss Dad everyday. And it is hard sometimes to break away from the sadness. I really enjoyed spending the time in my little fire ceremony, purposefully remembering and honoring Dad. I think I will keep this idea for every year on this day.

Hug your dads extra tight today. If you can’t physically hug them, send a hug in another way that makes you feel that you honored them. 

I love you, Daddy.



3 responses to “dad’s day

  1. Dr. Kansas says:

    I love your tribute! Keep on writing – I love your stories. Much love from Kansas ❤


  2. Anonymous says:

    as always you are the best!!! love Grandma


  3. Anonymous says:

    Beautifully expressed as always.


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