Dear Daddy, I Get it Now


Dear Daddy,

It has been a few days since you left this earth. You died on September 11, 2023. That day forever changed me.

Obviously, I am still in the beginning stages of grief. I have already had many revelations since it happened.

This is step 1 of my grieving process-writing it down. I think you would have done the same thing. Although, you were much more eloquent writer than I am. Please don’t critique me too much.

After you fell in February of 2023, we were both stuck in a downward spiral. From finding out that you had a neuroendocrine tumor on your spine to emergency surgery to remove it.

Who knew that you would wake up from that surgery paraplegic?

It is crazy to think that a month before this, you were living independently and looking after Mama. How did you two hide her dementia from us for so long? That was very sneaky, by the way. I don’t know how you did it all. The cooking, cleaning, and everything in between.

To go from being a caretaker to losing your ability to walk within a matter of weeks is devastating. I watched you in awe of how well you handled everything. I couldn’t really comprehend it. I get upset over the smallest of things at times.

We all do, I suppose.

Yet, there you were, without the ability to walk, losing all your independence, and you were still happy.


You were the most go-with-the-flow guy around. Standing at only 5’7, you were small but mighty. Always the gentlemen, you still opened every door for Mama. You had a great sense of humor. I like to think that I got some of that. I will miss hearing you quote Chevy Chase and Steve Martin movies.

Most importantly, though, you had unshakeable faith. You would pray out loud a lot in the hospital and ask God to help you. You prayed before every meal. Even the gross hospital food that you hated. I won’t forget those moments.

You went through rounds of radiation, chemo infusions, colostomy bags, and countless tubes coming out of your body. The doctors would come in and tell you that you had to undergo yet another procedure, to which you would say with a smile, “It is what it is”.

Remember when I asked you one day why you always use that expression?

“Aren’t you upset?” I asked.  You replied, “Heather, there is nothing that I can do about it. It is in God’s hands. If that is what I have to do, I will do it. Getting upset won’t change anything”.

One week when Bill (my husband) was traveling. I was home alone with the kids and working. At the same time, our AC broke in our house (hello, we live in Florida), and you had to go into the hospital again. I was venting on the phone to Bill about my “horrible day.”

You overheard me and said, “You sweat the small stuff too much. Outside of your family and your health, it’s all small stuff. Stop and smell the coffee”.

I did not get it then, but I do now.

The things that I worry about on any given day don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. An argument at work can be settled. A broken AC unit can be repaired. The amount of “likes” that you get on social media is irrelevant. What matters is your family. What matters is your health.

Everything else is icing on the cake.

Your last eight months on this earth were not easy. In fact, they were awful. You suffered. Yet, you were just happy to still be alive. You were happy with the simple things. A good cup of coffee, a hug from one of your grandchildren, or just to sit outside and feel the breeze. Those things seem so small and insignificant to most of us.

You had it right, though; the little things ARE, in fact, the big things.

You taught me so much. However, the biggest lesson didn’t come until your death. I learned that you can never be prepared for the death of a parent. It will leave a hole in your heart that cannot be repaired. Everything pales in comparison to losing your mom or dad.

It makes you reevaluate your priorities.

Dear Daddy, today I am sitting on my couch writing this, and I miss you so badly. I am wearing your sweatshirt. It still smells like you. It makes me feel like you are giving me a hug. Thank you for teaching me about the little things. Today this sweatshirt is all that I need to get through the day. I am stopping to smell the coffee now.

Love always, your daughter,



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