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BEACON Senior News

The most meaningful gift for Father’s Day

May 29, 2024 02:09PM ● By Amy Laundrie

A friend who recently lost her husband shared something she’s learned since his death. People frequently reach out to her, reminiscing about the wonderful times they shared with him and expressing what he meant to them. She loves hearing these stories but often wishes her husband could hear them too.

She shares an important message: tell the people in your life how important they are to you, and do it soon.

When my father died young, before I was 30, one of my biggest regrets was that we never had a loving moment where we said how much we meant to one another. 

My siblings and I could sense he loved spending time with us because when chores were done, he would readily pile us in the car for some adventure. While on road trips in the country, we kids could prompt him with “Wiggle, wiggle, Daddy,” and he would zigzag crazily making us squeal and ask for more. He also delighted in taking us tobogganing down the steepest slide in my hometown of Racine, Wisconsin, sometimes hopping on himself.

He taught us about cars, how to play baseball and the intricacies of fishing—from baiting a hook to setting the line and removing the fish. I have fond memories of trout fishing in Wisconsin streams, salmon fishing on the Root River and ice fishing that sometimes turned to ice skating when the fish weren’t biting.

I could guess he was proud of me because one winter day, he took my brother and me rabbit hunting on my uncle’s farm. As a rabbit darted from under an evergreen, I took aim as Dad had taught and squeezed the trigger. After the shot, Dad nudged my uncle, beaming with pride, and said, “She rolled ’er.”

I often wonder about the memories he cherished from our times together. Would his eyes have lit up if I’d spoken about that picture-perfect October day when he and I went pheasant hunting at Honey Creek Game Reserve? The fall air was fragrant with ripe apples and leaves crunched under my tennis shoes. Our English pointer, Pal, signaled a pheasant in the cornfield and my heart surged with excitement. The pheasant landed in a tree, and taking careful aim, I shot it down. Dad’s pat on the back and his grin felt like the highest praise. Later, he celebrated the day by taking me to a bar for the best onion rings I’ve ever tasted.

What regrets did he have? He often mentioned his dream of elk hunting in the Colorado hills—a dream I could have helped fulfill. But what about some of his other dreams?

What did he worry about? I can guess he worried about me from the way he insisted on checking my car over before long car trips and the way he vetted my boyfriends. When I brought home a new beau, he would often challenge us to playful contests like push-up races. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it might have been his subtle way of screening them, perhaps signaling to the boy that he better not mess with me.

Of course, I don’t know any of this for sure. Even after his colon cancer diagnosis, we never told each other how glad we were that we’d had so many years together.

Now is the time to reflect on your own relationships. Is there someone in your life—a father figure, a family member or even a friend who should know how much they mean to you? Someone whose efforts and presence in your life deserve acknowledgment? Don’t wait. Reach out today. The joy in their eyes will be worth more than words can say. You’ll be glad you did. 

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