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How To Deal With Losing a Parent Before You Tell Them You Love Them?

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A friend of mine’s father died recently and it made me think about my father.  A wonderful and quiet man.

In thinking about him, I had new revelations about him and decided to write him a letter.  Not only revelations, but unfinished business I had with my father.  A letter to him seemed like the right thing to do.

He was a wonderful man (I know, everyone says that about their father, but I truly believe that about mine) who put his own dreams and desires behind the welfare and happiness of his family.

He was from the old school: had the same job all his life, was selfless beyond what he should have been, never put himself first, saved and invested his money and never made himself the center of attention.

I realized that my relation with him was never ideal because I considered him old-fashioned and out of touch. I occasionally would ask his advice, but I rarely took it. I should have. I lost a lot of money and got into all kinds of trouble that I could have avoided if I’d listened to him.  I think many of us think our parents’ advice is not very valuable.

He was a quiet man, so he was hard to get to know and hard to read. He deferred to my mother for most family decisions. He was not involved in my life, other than wanting me to continue the Tucker tradition and become a doctor.

As my brother-in-law said at his funeral, he was the last of a breed that when he shook your hand on a deal, it was a good as detailed contract. That was the integrity he had. It was uncommon then, and even more so now.  I aspire to that kind of intergrity,

To get some closure with the the way I treated him and the sacrifices that he made for us, his family, I wrote this letter:

Dear Dad,

I just wanted to tell you what respect and admiration I have for you. You gave and gave and gave to me and our family, never thinking of yourself. Always doing first for your family.

You were incredibly generous and patient with all of us and particularly me because I never lived up to the career vision you had for me. I never listened to you and for that I am very sorry. I never took your advice seriously and for that I apologize.

I just wanted to thank you for all the sacrifices you made for me and for never complaining or turning me down for any reasonable request that I had. I wanted to tell you that all your sacrifice was noticed and recognized by me, even though I never thanked you.  You were a hard man to talk to, and you didn’t share much of yourself with others. 

I just took and took without acknowledging you for what you did.

Because of your influence, I now have a possibility in my life to create a career that is not only fulfilling and successful, but contributes to the health of millions of people.


Your son

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  1. You were fortunate to have a great father. I feel the best way to honor your parents, is by being a better parent than they ever could have been. Take their love for you have turn it up for your own children.

  2. I understand the importance of your letter. My father had driven from Wyoming to California so he could tell my brothers and me in person that he was dying of lung cancer. There was much I neglected to express to my father. Just as my father was pulling out of the driveway heading back to Wyoming, I handed him a sealed envelope that contained my letter The following month, his wife called to inform me he had passed away. She told me he unsealed the envelope when he arrived home. As my father read my letter tears filled his eyes, afterward, he put the letter back into his wallet where it remained

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