Goodbye Dad, an Open Letter from Jim to Don

May 21, 2014

The last time I saw you was right after Mom’s funeral this past March. You were in the front seat of the car that dropped me off at the airport. Weak, gentle and frail, you started to get out of the car, asking if you could come with me. It was not to be. We said our ‘I love yous’ and, with tears in my eyes, I walked into the airport, sure that this would be our last goodbye.

I have a hand-written note taped to the wall of my office. You wrote it last year after visiting Wendy and me. In the note, you thanked me for taking you fishing, which turned out to be your last fishing trip. You called me a “master guide.” It was your way of telling me you were proud of me. I shall cherish it always.

I may have been your master fishing guide during those two days, but you were and are my master guide to things far greater. My love for music, for my son, for the beauty of the outdoors, for God and for showing genuine kindness to others are all rooted in you.

There is much I want to thank you for. Thanks for selflessly passing the torch for the four levels to Wendy and me. We will do our best to be the spark that turns others into bright lights. Thanks for teaching me how to laugh with people, and how to show them that heart and the human spirit are more meaningful than any metric. Thanks for serving our country so that others can be free. Thanks for never being harsh with me despite the many mistakes I have made.

In case you haven’t noticed, I now take the cover off the front seat of my boat when I am fishing in honor of you and in case you ever want to join me.

You are irreplaceable, Dad. Thanks for loving me. I will honor you going forward, knowing that your death was not nearly as significant as the life you lived.


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