This story first appeared in the June 23 issue of the Community Voice. For your subscription, call 270-384-9454.
I grew up in a military family. My father was in the Air Force for 26 years, which included the first 15 years of my life. Our lives were pretty regimented. We children were each given daily chores to do, and we were held to some high expectations our parents had for us.
My brother, sisters and I had a healthy respect, borderline fear to be truthful, of my father. We didn’t want to disappoint him; we didn’t want to upset him because we knew how important it was to him to have chil- dren that behaved. It was like a badge of honor to him.
Iknewitwasabig deal in our family when we found out years later some of my cousins that live in Indiana hated when our family would come visit. Their parents would compare them to the way my siblings and I behaved during the visit. Little did they know we behaved because we just didn’t want to get in trouble.
I bring this all up to say, Father’s Day is a difficult time for me because it reminds me of one of the biggest regrets I have in my life–the day I let my father down. It is something I silently hash around in my head on an almost daily basis.
In October of 1998, I was selling insurance in Springfield. Mom and dad lived in Lexington, and I regularly spent weekends with them. It was a great place to relax, chill out and my mother’s cooking was pretty great. She could have had her own show on Food Network.
One weekend I didn’t go to Lexington and my father called me Sunday morning to see where I was. You could hear the disappointment in his voice; my visits had become a regular thing. We would eat a good lunch mom made, and then we would watch football on television. Dad was usually fully reclined and snoring by halftime.
I just didn’t want to go that weekend, so I told him that day I couldn’t make it. I said I was busy and that I didn’t feel well. I told him I would come to the house the following week for sure. He said he understood, though I am not sure he really did. I told him I loved him and that I would talk with him soon.
The following Wednesday, I got a phone call from my brother, you know those phone calls where you know it is something bad before the person says anything. My father was dead. He had passed away the night before of a heart attack.
So, there I was. My father is dead and the last thing I said to him was a lie. That has haunted me for the last 24 years.
Friends and family have told me to try and forget it. They said my tears were understand- able, but not necessary. They said they were sure my father would not be upset and, more than likely, would laugh about it. Some of the stories of my father in his youth far outweigh anything I did or even thought about doing.
But that doesn’t make Father’s Day any easier for me to handle. I miss him bunches. He was the guy I looked up to, wanted to be like. And I would give anything in the world if I could take that phone call back. You never know what impact your decisions will have on you or others.
Tell your dad you love him. Not just today, but every day, and tell him often. The 10 or 15 seconds it would take to make that phone call could mean the world to him and you both.
Unfortunately, you may never get another chance.