Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

By Lori Welch Brown

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Dear Dad,

This is gonna be a tough one—our first Father’s Day without you.  That was hard to even type without crying. 

I hate this so much.  I hate not talking to you every day.  I hate not being able to call you or hold your hand.  I hate not hearing you laugh.  Life is not the same without you.  I knew it wouldn’t be. I was always afraid of the day you wouldn’t be here, and now here we are. 

Guess I’ve always been a “Daddy’s Girl”.  You were my role model for all the men who would come into my life. From early on, you taught me how a man should treat a woman.  “Don’t ever let a man raise his hand or his voice to you,” was my first lesson on dating.  You were so protective of me, and rightfully so.  I was your one and only baby girl.  You fiercely watched over all four of us in your role as our guardian and protector.

You wore so many hats—educator, driver, breadwinner, coach, referee, disciplinarian, negotiator and mediator.  Many of life’s important lessons were handed down from you.  You taught us how to swim, drive a car, change a tire, file income taxes, bait a hook, show respect, be kind and generous.  “Even when you have a little, you still have something to give,” were words you lived by.

You were my hero.  The go-to man for oil changes, weird noises, leaky faucets, sibling argument disputes, overdrawn checking accounts, etc.  If dad couldn’t fix it, it couldn’t be fixed.  Oh—and you made the best pancakes on the planet.  Every Sunday going as far back as I can remember, I woke up to the smell of pancakes and bacon on the griddle.  We all knew that when you yelled out, “Breakfast is ready, come and get it!,” we better be quick to claim our seat at the table.

No doubt you were strict.  Phil, Chuck, Marty and I all knew that as long as we were living under your roof, we played by your rules.  And, John Welch’s rule book was thick, subject to change, and never to be questioned.  If you weren’t in a room, the light had better be off.  The refrigerator door was never to be left open, and there was absolutely no standing in front of it/lingering while you were pondering your options.  No opening windows or doors when the A/C was on.  “We aren’t cooling off the entire neighborhood!”  No TVs in bedrooms when there was a perfectly fine one in the living room.  No running in the house.  No rough housing.  No hats at the table and shirts required.  No members of the opposite sex in bedrooms.  No coming in past curfew.  “If I said 11:00 pm, I meant 11:00 pm.  If 11:05 was okay, I would have said 11:05.”  If you arrive on time, you’re late.  You should always arrive 15 minutes early.

And that was just Chapter One. 

We grew up knowing you were beloved, respected, and revered.  Everyone knew you to be hardworking and dependable.  You could be counted on to answer late night calls when the Miller’s heater stopped working or to help Ms. Powell figure out why her station wagon wouldn’t start.  The neighborhood kids were all just a little scared of you, but worshipped the ground you walked on.  You taught many of them how to hold a bat, call a foul ball, and whistle through their fingers. 

You expected a lot from us kids, but I understand now that you were grooming us to be solid, productive members of society.  We followed your footsteps in many ways and still lean into the lessons of our childhood.  We have a strong work ethic, and do what’s right even when no one is looking. 

I wish everyone could know what it’s like to have a dad like you, but I know that’s not possible. It breaks my heart because I’m not sure where I’d be today without your advice, counsel, support, and unconditional love.  I’m not sure I would have made it out of my teens without your discipline and rules keeping me from smashing into the guardrails of my youth.  I guess I would have figured out how to buy my first car and a house on my own, but it would have been a lot harder. 

I’m not sure how I got so lucky, Dad.  I sure do hope that all the kids who don’t have a dad like you have someone in their life who can give them what you gave me—unconditional love, understanding, and support.  I hope they have someone who is making rules and enforcing them to keep them safe and out of trouble.  I hope they have someone like I did whom they can look up to and want to make proud.  I hope they have a person in their life whom they love, respect, trust, and don’t want to disappoint. Disappointing you was the worst punishment of all, and I did my best to avoid that at all costs.   

Dad, I miss you so much it hurts.  I guess that’s the price of love—the grief is a heavy burden to carry, but it is evidence of how much you are loved and missed. 

With love,

Your Favorite (and only) Daughter, Lori

****

To all the dads (and moms pulling double duty), Happy Father’s Day!

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